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Many books have been written about London, but there is room 
for many more. This one can at least boast a show of pictures 
in colour to put it at advantage over most competitors. 
The author's task is to accompany the reader through such a 
gallery of illustration, drawing attention to its manifold contents 
from various points of view. He has tried to present the different 
quarters of the metropolis under their characteristic aspects, for 
his part dwelling rather on the life that crowds these streets in 
which so many famous features offer themselves to pictorial 
art. His design is not a guide-book, but what may make a 
companion to guide-books : a medley of history, anecdote, reminis- 
cence, observation, reflection, and other materials, so put together 
as frankly intended to interest and amuse the stranger in London, 
yet also serving to insinuate a good deal of information not always 
familiar to every Londoner. 

Note to New Edition, 1916 

This book is now brought up to date in matters of consequence, 
while it has not seemed necessary to alter every allusion that 
may hint how it was first published a few years back, still less 
to touch on temporary phases of London life under the stress 
of war. 


What London is . . . . . . 1 

The City 

. 14 

About St. Paul's 

. 44 

Along the Strand 

. 74 

Charing Cross 



, 134 

Clubland . 


The West-End 


Parks and Palaces 


The East-End 


The Surrey Side 


The Suburbs 







1. Westminster from the River 






The White Tower 

The Tower of London 

The Tower and the River 

The Custom House and Billingsgate 

The Royal Exchange 

Grocers' Hall .... 

St. Paul's from the North-East Corner of the Church 

YARD ..... 

St. Paul's from the Surrey Side 

St. Paul's from the River 

The Dome (North Transept) St. Paul's, from Pater 

noster Row .... 
West Smithfield .... 
Cloth Fair ..... 
Fleet Street .... 

St. Paul's, looking along Fleet Street 
The Temple Church 
The Temple Garden 
Fountain Court and Middle Temple 
Staple Inn .... 

St. Mary-le-Strand 

St. Paul's from the South End of Waterloo Bridge 
Northumberland Avenue 
The Nelson Column on a Foggy Day 
The India Office .... 
Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament 
Cleopatra's Needle and Somerset House 






























Dean's Yard, Westminster . . . .142 

The Coronation Chair, Westminster Abbey . . 144 

Henry VII. 's Chapel, Westminster Abbey . . 146 

Chaucer's Tomb ...... 148 

The Pavilion at Lord's . . . . .178 

Clubs in Piccadilly . . . . .186 

Piccadilly Circus . . . . . .188 

Hay Barges near Chelsea . . . .190 

St. George's, Hanover Square .... 194 

St. James's Street from the New University Club . 210 
St. James's Palace . . . . . .214 

The Serpentine . . . . . .216 

The Green Park ...... 218 

The Gardens of Marlborough House . . . 220 

Buckingham Palace ..... 222 

The Dutch Garden, Kensington Palace . . 224 

Rotten Row ...... 226 

Hyde Park Corner from Rotten Row . . . 228 

Hyde Park Corner ...... 232 

St. Paul's from Hampstead Heath . . . 238 

The Tower Bridge ...... 240 

The Tower . . . . . . .242 

The Tower and Upper Pool .... 244 

Off Limehouse ...... 256 

The Tower Bridge from above Cherry Garden Pier . 272 
The George Inn, Southwark .... 280 

An Arch of London Bridge .... 282 

Waterloo Bridge ...... 284 

Tower Bridge with 

of Ships . 
Lambeth Palace 
Richmond Bridge 
In Golder's Hill Park 

the Bascules up for the Passage 


Sketch Picture Plan of Central London at end of book. 



We all know that London stands on the Thames, that it is the 
capital of an empire on which the sun never sets, and that it has 
the right to call itself the largest and richest city in existence, 
perhaps the greatest congregation of human beings to which 
history ever had a chance of preaching on that old text, the rise 
and fall of so many a Babylon. We ought to know how it 
measures at least a dozen miles in length and breadth, and how 
it contains five millions or so of people, to which some half as 
many must be added if we take in its outer area. We can learn 
that it counts a million of houses ; that its myriads of streets, if 
set on end, would reach across Europe ; that it includes some 
sixteen thousand acres of open spaces ; that yearly it lays twenty 
miles of fresh pavements, and adds new inhabitants enough to 
make a country town, while it is always swallowing some old 
village in its insatiable maw. Those who have an appetite for 
such figures may further be instructed that every year its port 
harbours more than twenty thousand vessels of all flags, that 
every day nearly nine thousand trains run into its stations, and 
that every hour about ten million gallons of water are drawn for 
its various needs, flushing out in subterranean channels more than 
one cares to count or measure. The above are but samples from 
an imposing stack of statistics, that might be drawn upon by 
way of helping the imagination to realize what London is. 
Unimaginative and uninstructed eyes have long been content 
to leave the matter thus : " The cities of London and Westminster 
are spread out to an incredible extent. The streets, squares, 



rows, lanes, and alleys are innumerable. Palaces, public buildings, 
and churches rise in every quarter." I am using the pen of Miss 
Lydia Melford, whose first sensation in those thronged thorough- 
fares was like that of the fabulous Scot, at a later date found 
waiting shyly up an entry in Fleet Street, as he explained, till 
the people had come out of church. 

But next arises the question, What is London ? — one to be 
less readily answered. Not every Londoner could say off-hand 
whether Hampstead, for instance, belongs to his hive, nor in 
what sense it includes Norwood or Kew. London was once a 
walled city about the mouth of two small brooks flowing into 
the Thames ; then, escaping from this confinement, like the 
genius released by a fisherman in the Arabian Nights it quickly 
spread itself over the surrounding heights and flats, till, from an 
area of some square mile or so, it had expanded more than a 
hundredfold. Sovereigns in vain bade its growth come to a 
stand, their proclamations as idle as Canute's commanding the 
waves. Not less vainly lords cried out against the citizens who 
presumed to neighbour their parks and gardens, sooner or later 
to be ploughed up by streets. A century ago sociologists of 
Cobbett's stamp vituperated that " wen " whose bulk seemed 
a danger to national health ; and by the end of the century the 
tumour was swollen five times as great. Not that it has grown 
so much out of proportion to the general body, if we may accept 
Mr. Matthew Bramble's indignant calculation, made several 
generations back, that " one-sixth part of this whole extensive 
kingdom is crowded within the bills of mortality." That is 
much the same ratio as London proper now bears to England, 
its own thicker outskirts and the rest of the United Kingdom 
being eliminated, which, if brought into the sum, would make 
it work out in favour of the capital's increase. 

When we come to boundaries and definitions, we are met by 
the truly British want of system, symmetry, regularity, through 
which London was allowed to straggle and struggle up into a 
confused rough-cast conglomeration of materials stuck together 
by chance or by rule of thumb, cross-divided for different pur- 
poses, to be managed by divers and sometimes overlapping 


authorities. There are citizens who, till the consideration be 
brought home to them by rate-collectors or other call to civic 
duty, do not care to know in what parish, borough, Poor-Law 
union, Parliamentary division, or what, they have their home ; 
and on the edge of London some may be hardly clear what right 
they have to call themselves Londoners. The City, as it is styled, 
honoris causa, forms an independent core, round which strangers 
must be taught to distinguish between the County of London, 
by law established, and the wider circle that has come to be 
known as Greater London. 

At the end of last century a new organization was brought 
about by the London Government Act, dividing the County of 
London into twenty-eight boroughs, exclusive of the City, which 
clings to its time-honoured jurisdiction and privileges, keeping 
good order within its bounds by a police of its own, and having 
its own learned judges to supplement the rough-and-ready 
justice administered by Lord Mayor and Aldermen. Each of 
the boroughs has now its corporation, wanting nothing of dignity 
but age ; each of them is divided into wards, electing their quota 
of representatives on borough councils that replaced a hugger- 
mugger administration of vestries and local boards ; and all these 
are knit together under the municipal parliament of the London 
County Council. The new boroughs usually take their titles 
from some parish of note — Kensington, Paddington, St. Pancras, 
Shoreditch, and so on — while certain familiar quarters of London 
have had their fame slighted in this division, as Brixton swallowed 
up in Lambeth, Sydenham invisibly rent between Lewisham 
and Camberwell, and half a dozen smaller names lost in that of 
Wandsworth. Something was then done to round off the county 
area, as by dragging in South Hornsey, and turning out into Kent 
the " hamlet " of Penge, with its 23,000 people ; but, after all 
such adjustments, the boundary seems a most zigzag one, which 
leaves Ealing and Edmonton outside of London, but takes in 
Woolwich and Hampstead. When one goes out the Edgware 
Road, beyond Maid a Vale he has on his right hand the London 
borough of Hampstead, stretching on to the " Spaniards " at 
the farther end of its Heath ; but the left side of the road is mere 


Middlesex, where Willesden would fain change its humble style 
of urban district for the title of borough, being, indeed, populous 
as half a dozen boroughs. On the Finchley Road the frontier 
is at present marked by a loose end of tramway, which haughty 
London will not admit into her bosom. In less genteel quarters 
the limit may be betrayed at night by a rush across it of thirsty 
suburbans, whose public-houses shut earlier than those of the 
roistering County. On the east side, its manifest boundary is 
the Lea, beyond which some half-million of people live in Essex 
boroughs that belong to London as Salford does to Manchester. 
For certain purposes, indeed, these outskirts may dovetail into 
London, or be cleft within themselves ; thus the south part of 
Willesden, above mentioned, holds fellowship with the London 
drainage system, while the north side of the parish has the more 
expensive lot of discharging its refuse from the Brent watershed. 

Beyond the invisible border-line of the County come more 
or less thickly clustered the county boroughs, municipal boroughs, 
urban districts, and rural districts, that go to make up Greater 
London. The boundaries of this area, indeed, are well marked 
only to official spectacles. The London Postal District has a 
radius of several miles, stretching beyond the County limits, 
while excluding its south-eastern corner. A wider sweep is that 
of the Metropolitan Police District, taking in all parishes within 
fifteen miles of Charing Cross, among them independent towns 
like Bromley, Croydon, Epsom, Kingston, Barnet, and Barking, 
in a province not far short of 700 square miles. A quarter of 
a century ago, a friend of mine who undertook to walk round 
London, made it a matter of sixty miles : a round hundred 
would be nearer the present mark. Mr. Frederick Harrison 
laments that one must now go forty miles out to secure the rustic 
peace in which his youth was passed within sight of the dome 
of St. Paul's. 

But even this huge space does not give room for all the monster's 
limbs and tentacles, ever stretching outwards to drag green 
countrysides into its gullets of brick. The multiplication of 
railways and the extension of tram-lines help well-to-do citizens 
more and more to make their homes far out of the smoke and din 


amid which their work lies, so that many thousands of families 
living an hour or two's journey from the City can count them- 
selves as Londoners after a sort. A ring of old towns now studs 
the girdle of the Metropolis, that makes up to them in prosperity 
what they lose in dignity by their dependence — Romford, Brent- 
wood, Epping, Hertford, St. Albans, Watford, Uxbridge, Staines, 
Woking, Guildford, Dorking, Sevenoaks, Gravesend ; and still 
further afield appear fringes and tassels of this still growing 

It will be seen, then, how various measurements might be 
taken of London's bulk, imposing by any definition. One visible 
boundary, that seems novel and practical, is suggested by 
Mr. Ford Madox Hueffer (The. Soul of London). 

We may say that London begins where tree-trunks commence to 
be black, otherwise there is very little to distinguish Regent's Park 
from Penshurst, or Wimbledon from Norwich. This tree-trunk 
boundary is, however, defective enough ; in many parts of Epping 
the wood is so dense that boughs and boulders are as green, as brown, 
as mossy, or as lichened as at Fontainebleau. The prevailing winds 
being from the south and from the westwards, again, the zone of 
blackened trunks extends farther than is fair towards the north and 
the east. But judge I by this standard, London, as far as I have 
been able to observe, is bounded by a line drawn from Leigh in Essex, 
half-way through the Epping Forest, to the north of Hendon, to the 
west of Brentford, the south-west of Barnes, well to the south of 
Sydenham, well to the east of Bromley, and so up to Leigh again. 
Other observers will no doubt find this tree-trunk limitation a little 
faulty ; but it takes in at least nearly all the looser elements of the 
sphere of London influence. And, as the invariable and bewildering 
exception to this, as to all rules, it may as well be set down that the 
most " Londony " of all London trees has a bark that is never uniformly 
black. The plane-tree grows best of all in London, because it sheds 
its bark continually ; getting rid of its soot, it clears the por'es of its 
skin and flourishes — if I may be allowed an image that appears frivolous 
but that is sober enough — a perpetual emblem to the city of the morning 
tub. In the suburbs the plane yields first place to the flowering 
almond, in the parks to the thorn, but it is the tree of intimate London. 
Elms, however, are the trees most noticeable on the roads into London, 
and their trunks blacken perhaps soonest of all. Nine Elms, Barn 
Elms, and how many other " Elms " \ greet us on the run into town ; 


ami the feathery outlines of how many of these trees close the vistas 
of those new suburban streets that are for ever drilling little pathways 
into the ancient " estates " of the home counties ! 

It might be fancifully put that this giant spreads not only 
over the earth, but mounts to the very sky, aglow for leagues 
above the lights of London. Too often, indeed, that pillar of 
fire becomes by hidden daylight a cloud of smoke ; and another 
mark of London would be its obscuring breath. The London fog 
is one of its darkest reproaches, yet even through this seeing 
eyes can catch glimpses of weird charm, as vistas among the 
grimy walls frame fine sky-effects, toned and coloured by the 
emanations of its crowded life. The true lover of London 
admires her most in her coy, not to say sullen, moods, when her 
smiles have to be won by patient courtship. Summer and sun- 
shine tempt him to faithlessness, suggesting charms that are not 
her native characteristics. If it be not false heraldry to quote 
again from a rival — or upon argent — I will own there is much 
in what Mr. E. V. Lucas says in his Wanderer in London. 
" Although London beneath a May sun is London at her loveliest, 
it is when signs of winter begin to accumulate that to me she is 
most friendly, most homely. I admire her in May, but I am 
quite ready to leave her ; in November I am glad that I shall not 
be going away for a long time. She assumes the winter garb so 
cheerfully and characteristically. With the first fog of November 
she begins to be happy. ' Now,' one seems to hear her say, 
1 now I am myself again. Summer was all very well, but clear 
air and warmth are not really in my fine. I am a grey city and a 
dingy : smoke is the breath of my life ; stir your fires and let us 
be comfortable and gloomy again.' " This writer's beloved 
Charles Lamb would surely have agreed with him. " O, never 
let the lying poets be believed, who 'tice men from the cheerful 
haunt of streets !" Johnson thought that a man might as well 
be tired of life as of London. And James Smith bluntly puts 
the creed of those to whom all but London are " rejected 
addresses," declaring this "to be the best place in summer, the 
only place in winter." 

At all events, our fog cannot be held deadly, when London, 


long one of the healthiest capitals in Europe, has, by the sanitary 
care of the last generation, come down to, or up to, a death-rate 
of some fourteen in the thousand. Moreover, the Metropolitan 
counties of Middlesex and Essex were lately reported the healthiest 
in England, while their suburban quarters, surprisingly, had a 
lower mortality than some more rural districts. It seems only 
in unstatistical ages that poets bring death with equal pace to 
mansion and hovel ; so London's death-rate, covering the inner 
circle, varies, of course, according to the conditions of life and 
work in different quarters, as does the birth-rate, regrettably 
highest among those least able to bring up a large family under 
favourable circumstances. Too many sickly and crippled children 
are born and kept alive by the medical skill and multifold 
charity at work to counteract ignorance and improvidence. But 
in general, the Cockney is healthy enough, where even his stunted 
average of stature seems an adaptation to the environment. 
Very manifest is the energy with which he takes to games and 
athletic exercises under difficulties, often beating yokels at sports 
that might hardly be expected to thrive under the smoke of a 
thronged city. That nickname, dubiously interpreted as derived 
from the idea of a cock's egg, or from the lubberland of Cockayne, 
apparently implies some rustic gibe at a softness or slackness 
quite belied by fact. The Londoner is said still to make a good 
soldier ; and in old times he proved his martial spirit in train- 
bands always ready to turn out for any popular cause, a city 
militia represented by more than one regiment's origin, most 
clearly by the Honourable Artillery Company, that in its Fins- 
bury headquarters boasts to be the oldest military corps of the 

Cockney blood, to be sure, seems to run thin in the stress of 
this life. It is said, though scarcely proved, that, outside the 
class which gains fresh force by contact with mother earth, few 
Londoners can claim three generations of London origin. But 
if the giant be always wasting his strength, he is constantly re- 
cruited from the country, far over which flare the lights of London 
as beacon to streets that too often turn out hardly paved even 
with silver and copper, and only here and there with gold, for 


those who can find it beneath the mud. Fresh-faced servant- 
maids and stalwart policemen are won from the country to mate 
in London, which naturally attracts ambitious aiid enterprising 
craftsmen of every kind. Unfortunately, too, many are 
attracted being masters of no craft in demand here, nor always 
willing to play the Gibeonite with effect, so that a spoilt rustic 
often makes a feckless Londoner, to whom " back to the land !" 
is cried in vain, once he has known the allurement of lights, 
and company, and spectacles, and the charitable funds that breed 
as much poverty as they relieve. 

For citizens of other lands also, London has of late years 
proved more and more attractive. How far their visits be due 
to admiration makes a difficult point, when cultured Britons 
themselves are not at one about the charms of our capital, which 
has at least developed a late consciousness of need for aesthetic 
improvement. Foreigners have been apt to shrug their shoulders 
over its architecture, its art, its want of sweetness and light ; 
but some strangers within our gates appear now better disposed 
to tickle John Bull with a flattery he does not much trouble to 
bestow on himself. One of our recent visitors, the lady styling 
herself Pierre de Coulevain, in her Ulle Inconnue, presents a 
description worth quoting for its manifest effort to be fair, even 
to our fogs. 

London appears beautiful or ugly, according to one's turn of 
mind. For me it has an actual fascination. I feel its immensity, 
its power, its multitudinousness. Its low sky, its rayless sun, its yellow 
fog, give it an aspect of full north which charms me particularly. The 
fogs, so much abused, soften its lines, tone down its uglinesses, and 
afford an admirable grey tint. They have, besides, striking effects : often 
they veil a whole side of the horizon ; a light breeze opens them out to 
let a Gothic cathedral emerge, a monumental bridge, high factory 
chimneys ; then, if a strong wind scatters them roughly, the panorama 
of a city is unrolled before one's eyes. . . . 

London is an ant-hill — yes, but gigantic and marvellous. I see 
endless lines of small dwellings with " guillotine " windows, some 
imposing houses, then here and there more lofty structures of six, 
*even, nine storeys, overcharged with ornament, particularly ugly, 
and too much trenching on the low sky. I see wide arteries, narrow 


and grey side-streets, an immense meeting of ways —Trafalgar Square, 
separating two centres of different activity — openings where vehicles 
of all sorts cross each other, green spaces, flowery parks, fine trees, 
bits of meadow with cows on them, and even sheep. I see the Thames 
spanned by monumental bridges ; the Thames now become a river of 
business, its dark waters bearing heavy cargoes and struggling against 
the tides. I see several great whirlpools of life : the Docks, where 
physical strain is at its highest, the City, the Strand, Piccadilly, Bond 
Street, Hyde Park. And dominating this mighty mass with thought 
and beauty, I see Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, 
Gothic edifices, cathedrals, churches, royal palaces, St. James', Buck- 

From these lines my eye turns to the expression of London. It 
seems to me severe and dull, but full of vigour. As to its moral 
atmosphere, that is singularly heavy and dry. I feel that it wants 
many higher elements. Thought and youth are away in the University 
towns ; art is here in very small, almost invisible quantity ; the churches 
are shut six days in the week. In general, its features are marked 
externally by money cares, ambition, pride, snobbism, powerful 
energies, force of will and of character, brutal passions, sufferings of a 
life and death struggle. London is a trading city, greedy for gain, 
where everything has its price, where the Golden Calf is fabricated 
and worshipped. In this merchant City, however, one is aware of 
a soul of Gothicism, of spirituality, of Bible faith, which ennobles it, 
gives it a higher distinction, perhaps, than it gets from the royal and 
imperial flag under which it works and trades. It is to this soul, if I 
am not mistaken, that it owes its true grandeur. 

The material greatness of London is unquestionable. Its 
moral grandeur should be not less imposing, though hardly 
realized by most Londoners, paled as it is by the pride of Paris, 
ville de lumiere, shadowed by the fame of Rome, mother of arts 
and faith, thrown into relief by the decay of Delhi and Pekin, 
done homage to by the envy of capitals that hope to be what 
London is now. There is no city with so many inhabitants for 
whose sayings and doings all the world is agog. At Florence 
I once met a damsel hailing from some Hugginsville or Muggins- 
opolis in the centre of Uncle Sam's dominion, whom I vaguely 
remember as a most conceited, ignorant, and bumptious young 
person ; but it was so many years ago that she has had time to 
learn better. She took no notice of me till she found out how 


I lived in London, whereupon, without preface or apology, she 
demanded my aid in discharging a commission given her by the 
Hugginsville Eagle, or suchlike local organ, to write her im- 
pressions of London, well spiced with " personal items " drawn 
from its " prominent citizens." The idea, as I understood it, 
was that I must go about with her to knock at the doors of the 
prominent citizens, and expose them to the pen of this confident 
interviewer. When I modestly declined such an enterprise, she 
dismissed me with republican rudeness, such as I hope she herself 
had not to encounter among our prominent citizens. We have 
since seen presumptuous Englishwomen go into paroxysms of 
scratching, screaming, and slapping policemen's faces when they 
are not allowed to waste the time of laborious statesmen with 
petitions and addresses that might be sent under a halfpenny 
stamp, after becoming known by heart to every newspaper 
reader. Do such foolish virgins recognize what manner of men 
are London's prominent citizens, for whom honest John Bull 
has not often been wanting in regard and respectful curiosity ? 

This is a city, a congregation of cities, where at any turn 
you may meet a sovereign prince, a modern Croesus, a statesman 
whose name is sterotyped in every civilized language, a thinker 
whose influence goes out to all ends of the world. One has sat 
beside Ruskin in a bus, and John Bright in a Metropolitan 
railway carriage ; one has seen Herbert Spencer, Huxley, Dickens, 
Tennyson, Carlyle, walking the streets unnoted by the common 
herd ; one has come upon Disraeli meditating before the statue 
of John Stuart Mill in the dusk of the day it was unveiled ; one 
has had a casual glimpse of Gladstone hurrying back from a 
momentous interview at Windsor ; one has stared at Emperors, 
Kings, and Presidents paraded in turn for London's greeting, and 
at a whole galaxy of such potentates in their finest array, on 
occasions of festal ceremony that concerned half the royal families 
of Europe. Our own Princes, the cynosure of so many eyes, one 
may catch on foot in Pall Mall, or taking a hansom in Piccadilly. 
These are sights I myself have seen by chance, who am not one 
to put myself out of the way hunting for them, as is the sport 
of some Londoners. 


There is a work of national reference called Who's Who, in 
which, taking a couple of pages at random, I find, among a score 
of more or less distinguished Britons, only one-third who seem 
not to have at least a pied-a-terre in London, and some half of 
them altogether Londoners. So a chronicler of King Stephen's 
time tells us that then " almost all the Bishops, abbots, and 
magnates of England, are in a manner citizens and freemen of 
London City." But even if its living citizens were a mere mass 
of nonentities, London might still take pride in its dead genera- 
tions. Whatever be its merits or demerits in the way of beauty, 
stateliness, and comfort, at least our Metropolis is rich in famous 
scenes and world-familiar associations. A visitor must be ignorant 
indeed to pass by the " things of fame that do renown this city," 
as no more interesting than the sky-scrapers of New York or the 
shambles of Chicago, whose smart citizens sometimes undertake 
to cream the sights of London in a couple of days. I have met 
an American tourist proud of having " done " all Europe, with 
Egypt and the Holy Land, in three weeks. But the stranger 
who has time to indulge a visionary mood, may see our streets 
full of ghosts often invisible to their descendants in the flesh. 
Here are courts trodden by the feet of Lamb, Johnson, Gold- 
smith ; houses in which Macaulay, Byron, Pitt were at home ; 
walks known to Addison and Swift ; spots consecrated by memories 
of Milton, Shakespeare, Chaucer ; and tombs of many a world- 
famous name. If our foreign visitors turn away from monuments 
of Wellington, Nelson, or Marlborough, they may be led to 
reminiscences of their own celebrities — where Louis Napoleon 
lived and died in exile, like other rulers of inconstant France ; 
where Mazzini took sanctuary to brood over the regeneration of 
his people ; where Swedenborg died and was buried ; where Alfieri 
fought a duel, and Voltaire had to repent a rash challenge ; 
where Benjamin Franklin worked as a printer, and William Penn 
scandalized his family as a Quaker ; where Peter the Great 
drank like a Tartar ; where Philip of Spain could not make himself 
at home ; where Erasmus visited Sir Thomas More ; where 
Vandyck and Holbein left their best work, like many another 
foreign craftsman — but these are only extracts from a catalogue 


of mi moires pour servir, to be kindled into life by ready imagina- 

To the most stolid eye can be shown the very rooms in which 
Queen Victoria played as a girl ; the palace of the Georges ; the 
park where Charles II. fed his ducks ; the hall where Charles I. 
took his trial, and another whence he stepped on to his scaffold ; 
the water-gate at which Elizabeth was ushered to her barge for 
Greenwich or Richmond ; that other Traitors' Gate under which 
so many of England's best and bravest passed to their doom ; 
the chamber where the most loved of our Henries assumed the 
crown from his dying father ; the church before whose altar 
James I. of Scotland was married, to breed a longer line of kings 
than Shakespeare foresaw ; the City playground where Richard II. 
parleyed with his rebels, an arena once defiled by the ashes of 
martyrs and by the blood of Wallace among more ignoble 
victims ; a tower built by William the Conqueror ; a chapel worn 
by the knees of Edward the Confessor ; streets through which 
Canute and Alfred have passed ; fragments of walls on which 
Roman soldiers kept watch, and stones that may have been 
stained by Druidical sacrifices. Looking down the long vista of 
our history, we can thus turn to London as a great gallery of 
illustration, where shadowy pictures of long ago are not wholly 
lost in the light of common day. 

London has no pretentious show of newly-conscious national 
pride, like the Sieges Allee of Berlin ; no elaborate architectural 
display, like the Ring of Vienna ; not much effect of official 
taste, like the boulevards of Paris. In this City, that grew 
grand with little shaping but from Nature and circumstance, 
one has the excitement of searching out its various interests, 
sometimes of surprise at coming upon its titles to renown where 
least expected. Its scattered shrines and relics, for the most 
part preserved by happy accident, are set in relief among its 
trite features of daily life. Too thoughtlessly have many of its 
monuments been slighted and swept away, till the spirit of our 
time aw<*ke to save the past from the hasty needs of the present. 
Now it may be taken for granted that our new authorities are 
alive to the duty of guarding London's soul as well as her body ; 


and, whatever scandal may be said of other municipal bodies 
on both sides of the Atlantic, whatever reproach may be clamoured 
back between its own factions, London's local parliament has 
as yet earned the good name of honestly and diligently striving 
to do its best for a city that should set an example of public 
spirit, as of wealth and power, to the world that has known no 
greater capital. 

Next, let us see what London was, from days long before books 
began to be written about it. 


Once upon a time the lower reaches of the Thames trickled 
sluggishly through a wilderness of marsh and moorland, swamped 
by tides from below and floods from above. Such names as 
Moorgate and Moorfields are to be taken, not as suggesting the 
" bonnie heather " sung by northern bards, but in the southern 
sense of puddled flats, as moor is still used on the undrained 
outskirts of Hindhead. This dank waste was the resort of 
countless wild-fowl, also of wild beasts plashing through its 
thickets, among them huge mammoths and other extinct " dragons 
of the prime," whose bones have been turned up along with the 
rude flint weapons of their exterminators, when their old haunts 
came to be tamed by drain-pipes. Men of science can carry their 
vision back through dark centuries, from which poets strive to 
catch distant echoes : 

Rumour of battle, noises of the swamp, 
The gride of glacial rock, the rush of wings, 
The roar of beasts that breathed a fiery air, 
Where fog envelops now electric light. 

All history has to say is that she knows not when, if she can 
guess how, the first human inhabitants began to pick up a living 
here. Their earliest dwellings were perhaps raised above the 
water on piles and wooden platforms, as in the lake village 
unearthed near Glastonbury. But to the founding of a firmer 
camp Nature herself had invited by throwing up along the river- 
sides a bank of such gravel as still makes the choicest building- 
sites of London, where the name Chelsea, for instance, has been 
said to imply a miniature chesil beach, like that piled along the 



Dorset coast, while a more roundabout derivation grinds its 
name down from Chalkhythe. 

Sooner or later a town arose whose rude citizens seem to 
have banked in the river to make a port about the creek of a 
little tributary afterwards known as the Walbrook. When we 
are first introduced to our forefathers by Caesar, they were not 
all so bluely naked as they have sometimes been painted. They 
had coins, chariots, tools, and weapons, implying long elaboration 
from the flint flakes of savage ancestors ; and it is clear that already 
some of those Britons carried on commerce with the Continent. 
Ancient tracks led from various quarters to London — or, rather, 
to an island two miles above, where the silt of another tributary 
formed a ford, by which traders' caravans could cross the river, 
making for one of the open seaports. It is remarkable that Caesar 
seems not to have heard of London when from Kent he marched 
on to pass the Thames some way higher up, at Brentford or at 
Walton, or elsewhere, according to contesting theories. But 
old chroniclers will have it that then London was already a noted 
place of trade ; and legend tells of a King Lud, who has left his 
name here, nay, of one Brute, descended from iEneas and Venus, 
who, landing at the mouth of the Thames, built a new Troy older 
than Rome. Such tales we must leave in the same obscurity 
as hides the origin of the name. The commonly received 
derivation, scouted by the high authority of Dr. Bradley, is 
Llyn-Dun, such a " lake-stronghold " as rose where every high 
tide turned the river reaches into a wide lagoon, till, either by 
the Romans or before them, stream and tide were confined between 
embankments like those that still protect the Essex marshes. 

Under the name of Londinium, this town comes authentically 
to view in Tacitus, who speaks of it as full of goods and traders. 
Besant very reasonably argues that in its early days London 
may have been not so much a town as a fair, held only in the 
summer months, when the inland roads were most serviceable : 
that might account for its being passed by in Caesar's time. At 
all events, after the firmer conquest for which Claudius took 
credit, the Romans adopted the place, sought to dignify it by 
the title of Augusta, and set about improving its structure and 


communications. They also occupied the Thorney Island, about 
which Westminster was destined to grow in dignity, while its 
commercial importance would be drained away to the developed 
port below. 

The young settlements were almost uprooted by an insurrec- 
tion under Boadicea, " bleeding from the Roman rods," who fell 
in a great battle, of which the supposed scene ranges from St. 
Pancras to Colchester. It may have been after that British 
mutiny that the conquerors built a strong fortress to safeguard 
London. A more difficult work of theirs would be the bridge 
across the Thames, to which, by way of Oxford Street, was 
diverted the old road afterwards known as Watling Street, a 
branch sucking traffic aside from the ford at Westminster. London 
became the radius of half a dozen paved roads leading to the 
Roman colonies in different directions ;* and " London Stone," 
let into a wall opposite Cannon Street Station, is believed to be 
the mother of British milestones. The City wall, of which sturdy 
fragments remain, seems not to have been built till a late period 
of the occupation, and then in haste, as protection against some 
sudden peril, for its materials include fragments of sculptured 
monuments and other ruins of a stately city. The wall measured 
some two miles, the little circus behind Tower Hill marking one 
of its first bastions, from which it ran to Aldgate, there turning 
to Bishopsgate and on to Cripplegate, beyond which, before 
finally bending south to follow the course of the Fleet to the 
Thames, it made an angle about Aldersgate, explained by Besant 
as probably half enclosing an amphitheatre, outside the wall. 
Later on, in Norman times, the fortification became strengthened 
by a ditch, which, on one side, was ready-made in the Fleet 

The belated building of this wall hints how the power of Rome 
might be shaken by rebellion, or by the civil wars of rival aspirants 

* The chief Roman roads from London appear to have been — (1) north-western, 
Watling Street, the present Edgware Road ; (2) northern, Ermin Street, 
through Tottenham and Edmonton ; (3) north-eastern to Colchester, still known 
as the Roman Road ; (4) south-eastern to the Kentish coast ; (5) southern to 
Chichester, in part to be traced through Surrey in an abandoned state ; (6) western 
to Silchester and Bath, branching southwards to Southampton 



to the purple, half a dozen of them distracting this distant corner 
of the empire. Finally the Romans withdrew, leaving Britain 
to be subdued by another race, more at home in ships than in 
cities. Perhaps London was then almost deserted ; at all events 
a long century of darkness falls upon its history, lit only by such 
glimmering legends as that of Vortigern calling to his aid the 
foes who were to overwhelm him, and by tapers of controversy 
as to how far Roman or Teutonic influences are found at the base 
of London's municipal institutions. By-and-by the sea-traders, 
who in that age had need for hearts of oak, ventured back to the 
port of London, reviving its export of metals, hides, wool, corn, 
cattle, and slaves, a trade again checked by the Viking pirates, 
that under the name of Danes came to be known as chronic 
invaders and half-conquerors of England. The original port 
at the Walbrook mouth had been supplemented by another 
at Billingsgate, a name said to be corrupted from that of Belinus, 
the Roman engineer of a road leading from the bridge through 
Billingshurst in Sussex ; but a plain Saxon Billing, or family of 
Billings, is also put forward as godfather. The additional quay 
at Queenhithe, higher up, got a clearly Saxon name. Soon after 
the Saxons accepted Christianity, London became a Bishop's 
seat, and its importance was recognized by Alfred, who may be 
called its refounder after a long spell of Danish ravage. 

Its walls having been repaired by this great King, when for a 
time he quelled the Danes, the City again grew so prosperous as 
soon to be expanding beyond its fortifications. Its trade brought 
flights of peaceful strangers, French, Flemish, German, to 
settle at a port that at times would be closed by battles about 
it on land and sea. The Saxons left no such solid traces of them- 
selves as the Roman works ; but how fully they adopted London 
is shown by the names of its streets and churches. St. Magnus 
and St. Olaf, however, point to a period when more than once it 
was held by the Danes, who, for further sign of their temporary 
domination, have left us the word hustings, originally meaning 
such popular assemblies as the Saxon folk-mote. Canute, a 
fragment of whose supposed house at Southampton claims to be 
the oldest structure in England, is also said to have founded the 



palace at Westminster, which was certainly the seat of Edward 
the Confessor. Then came the Norman Conqueror, to whom 
the now much mixed population of London would not open its 
gates till he had granted them the first of its charters, foundation 
of its power to foster our national liberty — a document still extant 
in the Guildhall, five lines on half a dozen inches of parchment, 
making a curt contrast with the verbosity of later laws : 

William, King, greets William, Bishop, and Gosfrith, Portreeve, 
and all the burghers within London, French and English, friendly ; 
and I make you to wit my will that ye be all law-worthy that were 
so in King Edward's day. And I will that every child be his father's 
heir after his father's day. And I will not suffer that any man offer 
you wrong. God keep you. 

William appears to have kept word with the citizens, whose 
good-will, however, he did not trust without fortifying his power 
in two strongholds overlooking their walls — the Montfichet Tower, 
at the western end of the City wharves ; and at the eastern corner 
the White Tower, on a site where tradition puts a citadel of 
Alfred and one of the Romans. This eastern keep, designed 
for such a Zwinger as raised angry suspicion among William 
Tell's compatriots, grew in following reigns into a palace fortress, 
where Norman Kings were sometimes fain to hold themselves 
close. But the most notable service of the Tower came to be 
as a State prison in later days, when sovereigns could dwell at 
more ease in gardened mansions like Hampton Court and Green- 

How many of England's princes and peers have been brought 
through the Traitors' Gate, the edge of the axe turned towards 
them, never to leave this Bastille, unless for the scaffold on Tower 
Hill, now worn down to the level commonplace of our own times ! 
Tower Hill has been turned into a garden ; but no grass grows 
on a spot blighted by the blood of royal or noble victims like Anne 
Boleyn, Katherine Howard, and Lady Jane Grey, who met their 
fate within the walls. Their execution place was beside the chapel 
of St. Peter ad Vincula, where so many headless bodies are buried 
without memorial, beyond a modern record of their names ; 
the monuments here are those of their gaolers. The head of the 



Duke of Suffolk, Lady Jane Grey's father, a waif from those 
bloody times, used to be preserved at Trinity Church in the 
Minories ; and I understand that the grim relic may still be seen 
at St. Botolph's, Aldgate, with which that other parish was lately 

The Tower, guarding its relics and survivals of quaint cere- 
mony, has now come down to be a Guards' barrack, and a show 
for visitors, who do not fail on days when admission is free. 
At once they get a hint of Tudor times in its ornamental warders, 
the Yeomen of the Guard, whose quaint costume, indeed, formosa 
superne, falls off below the waist into mere trousering. The 
entrance is by the Lions' Gate, a name reminding us how, before 
its living crests of the monarchy were set up in Regent's Park, 
the Tower served the office of a " Zoo," to which Charles Lamb's 
schoolfellows had once prescriptive right of free entrance. Bub 
the crowd finds still many attractive sights, in the historic 
buildings more or less restored, in the dazzling display of Crown 
jewels, in the great collection of old armour, in rusty hints of 
torture and touching inscriptions left on their dungeon Avails by 
prisoners waiting for death. Among trophies and vouchers of 
a storied past, the latest is that plain gun-carriage on which 
Queen Victoria's body passed across London, after a long reign 
throughout which no blood was shed on English soil for political 

The last State execution here was Lord Lovat's, that lifelong 
trickster, whose doublings in the '45 did not save his grey head 
from a fate little lamented, when — 

Pitied by gentle minds, Kilmarnock died, 
The brave, Balmerino, were on thy side. 

But of Lovat, " true to no King, to no religion true," Horace 
Walpole reports that at least he " died extremely well, without 
passion, affectation, buffoonery, or timidity "' ; and, indeed, at 
his age one might welcome such an effectual cure for the gout 
that crippled him when he played the fugitive, end of his many 

The Tower's last prisoner of anything like dignity was Sir 


Francis Burdett, father of Lady Burdett-Coutts, the Radical 
reformer who spent a fortune in winning a seat in Parliament, 
which he held through the life of a generation, till his zeal had 
grown so much cooler that he could be twitted with a recant of 
patriotism. But in 1809, when he made the figure-head of 
Hampden clubs and the mouthpiece for repressed Radicalism, 
his championship of free speech was so bold as to be condemned 
by an unreformed Parliament as breach of privilege. For several 
days he stood a siege in his house in Piccadilly, protected by a 
mob of sympathizers, by allies like Lord Cochrane, and by one of 
the Sheriffs of London ; but in the end he was haled out upon the 
Speaker's warrant, and hurried off to the Tower under an escort 
of cavalry. The riots over this imprisonment cost not only much 
breaking of glass, but some bloodshed. As soon as Parliament 
was prorogued the popular hero had to be released, and the same 
disorders were threatened in a demonstration of welcome, which 
Sir Francis had the good sense to avoid by slipping off across the 
river to his villa at Wimbledon. 

This brings us to an age when Parliament might try its hand 
at a tyranny which had slipped out of the grasp of Kings. But 
it was the King's Government that let the terrors of the Tower 
fizzle out in farce, by committing to it some obscure and crack- 
brained agitators of Burdett's following. The last prisoners 
confined here were the melodramatic gang headed by a dissolute 
ex-officer named Thistlewood, whose Cato Street conspiracy in 
1821 aimed at seizing London with a score or two of ill-armed 
and penniless desperadoes, after murdering the Ministers assembled 
at a dinner-party. The plot was blown upon by informers ; then 
these hot-headed rapscallions, posing as patriots, found them- 
selves treated to dungeons in the Tower, but were more fitly 
transferred to Newgate for sentence and execution. 

The battlements of the Tower might tempt us to a wide out- 
look over England's history, but let us come back to the story 
of a City whose famed municipality grew up beside the walls 
once threatening to overshadow it. There may be some doubt 
as to whether a model was taken from continental communes, 
or how far the City's constitution arose in our own unsym- 



metrical fashion upon use and opportunity. It appears that 
during Richard's robustious wanderings, the oppressions of his 
Chancellor set the citizens on dealing with John for a measure 
of self-government ; but London had already a magistracy of its 
own, when, towards the end of the twelfth century, Fitz Aylwin 
was appointed the first Mayor, holding his office for twenty-five 
years. Masterful Kings proved naturally jealous of this enhance- 
ment on the older office of Portreeve. Once at least the mayoralty 
was arbitrarily reduced to the humbler rank of custos, or warden ; 
and not without question was the right of free election established, 
sometimes to be suspended by royal usurpation, down to the 
time of Charles II. 

There were factions within the City itself, disputes be- 
tween masters and men, struggles between an aristocracy of 
rich citizens and a turbulent democracy. But organization of 
municipal government went on apace : the old quasi-religious 
guilds took shape as the City companies ; the barons of manors 
changed into aldermen of wards, more or less openly elected ; 
the Lord Mayor became head of a Court of Common Council ; 
and the Corporation grew to such strength as to stand up against 
the Crown, which its voice would go far to confer. London lent a 
hand to wring Magna Charta from John ; then, again, it sent a con- 
tingent of 12,000 men to the Barons' War, after which its Mayor, 
bold beyond his time, pardoned the humbled sovereign in what 
seemed presumptuous words : " So long as unto us you will be a 
good lord and King, we will be faithful unto you." 

Richard III. was not the first King to seek a title in the acclama- 
tions of London citizens, whose support established the House 
of Lancaster, till its weakness turned over their influence to the 
stronger line of York ; and all along the wealth of this City 
weighed heavily against the splendour of the throne. Medieval 
London must have made a formidable power by its population 
alone, to be guessed at from the fact that it contained more than 
six score parish churches, many of them at first chapels of manor- 
houses enclosed within the walls. Some of the parishes, indeed, 
were no more spacious than a mansion and its precincts ; people 
packed close in days when retainers and underlings had to be 


content with as narrow room as sailors on board ship. And this 
mass of men had not grown unwarlike in an age when every 
citizen must be ready to defend his life and goods. The lords 
of the City bore arms in a double sense ; Mayor and Aldermen 
kept watch and ward ; the craftsmen were trained to use weapons 
as w T ell as tools ; a proclamation of Edward III. denounces such 
unprofitable games as football, bowls, and quoits, whereas young 
men ought rather to be making records in archery. Besant, 
aware of the value of story-tellers as witnesses to manners and 
customs, shrewdly points out that the Old London 'prentice 
heroes were not such as came to be glorified by Dr. Smiles ; no 
successful merchants like Whittington, but youths of their hands 
going forth to win fame by bold adventures. He cites an 
Elizabethan book — The Nine Worthies of London, all of 
them legendary fire-eaters, who slew wild boars, fought foreign 
champions hand to hand, or came to be knighted on a stricken 
field for exploits that might well lead to marrying their masters' 
daughters. One legend gives this good fortune, in reward of an 
adventure at home, to Jack Osborne, apprentice of a pin-maker 
on London Bridge, whose daughter falling into the river, the 
gallant youth plunged to her rescue ; then, in due time, came about 
a wedding which the Duke of Leeds looks back on as the origin 
of his house. 

Yet the City always had a clear eye to business ; and it was 
in times of peace that it prospered as a great hive of industries 
and trades, each localized in its own quarter, as is still recalled 
by such names as Bread Street and Ironmonger Lane, Cornhill, 
and Fish Street Hill, the Poultry and the Vintry. Let us look 
at Besant's lively picture of it in those old days. 

Wherever one walked there arose the busy hum and mingled sounds 
of work : the melodious anvil rang out from a court ; the cry of the 
'prentices sounded in Chepe ; the song of those who retailed wares 
was heard about the street ; the women who sold fish cried aloud ; 
the man who carried water also cried his wares ; and so did the baker 
who took round the loaves. In the broad streets, Chepe and Cornhill 
and Bishopsgate Street, the knights and men-at-arms rode slowly 
along ; perhaps a great noble entered the City with five hundred 


followers all wearing his livery ; broad-wheeled waggons heavily 
rumbled ; the Queen was carried along in her cumbrous but richly 
decorated carriage or her horse litter ; the Mayor rode down the street 
accompanied by the Sheriffs and the Aldermen on the way to a City 
Function ; a trumpeter, a drummer, and a piper preceded a little pro- 
cession, in which the principal figure was a man tied on a hurdle with a 
whetstone round his neck to show that he was a liar and a cheat ; 
thus was the attention of the people called to the culprit, and they 
were invited to assist at his pillory, and were admonished of the 
punishment meted out to offenders. And all the time from every 
shop and stall and seld the voice of the 'prentice was uplifted, crying, 
" Buy ! buy ! buy ! What d'ye lack ? what d'ye lack ?" Above all, 
and all day long, was heard the ringing of the bells in the hundred and 
fifty churches and chapels of the City. They sounded all together for 
early mass, and all together for Angelus ; at other times for the various 
services in the Religious Houses ; even at midnight they sounded, 
when the monks were summoned from their warm beds to Matins. 
It was a noisy, bustling City, full of life and animation ; the people were 
always ready to fight, always dreading fire, famine, and plague, yet 
always hopeful ; and the City was always young as befits a City con- 
tinually at work. 

As often as it was free to stick to prosperous work, London 
went on growing, extending itself beyond its walls and gates, at 
first over the outer area of its " liberties," marked by " bars " 
on the main roads, then straggling out to embrace surrounding 
hamlets, which by that time were mainly in the hands of the 
Church, while all Middlesex had been in a sense granted to the 
City whose officers still replace royal sheriffs in this Metropolitan 
county. Its first great outswelling seems to have been along 
the road to Westminster, and on the north-west side round Smith- 
field and Clerkenwell. The population at various unstatistical 
periods can only be guessed, like that of certain Chinese cities 
down to our own time, claiming to surpass it in numbers which 
have shrunk under critical examination. Ghent and Bruges 
were larger even after Edward III. ordered English wool to be 
woven at home, no longer in Flanders. In the middle of the 
fourteenth century, when the Black Death swept over Europe, 
destroying half the people of some countries, more than 50,000 
corpses are said to have been huddled into the field on which 


the Charterhouse now stands, a burial-ground opened when the 
many churchyards were already gorged with infection. This 
figure, even allowing for panic-stricken arithmetic, suggests at 
least 100,000 to give such a tale of dead. The City watch paraded 
before Henry VIII. some 15,000 strong ; and in the Armada crisis 
London furnished 10,000 men for service. But surely Fitz 
Stephen drew a laudatory long bow in boasting that for King 
Stephen it could turn out 20,000 horse and 60,000 foot ! Let 
us hope that the same monkish chronicler spoke by the book in 
declaring the London citizens already distinguished above other 
townsfolk by the refinement of their manners dress, meals, and 

Under Elizabeth, an Italian writer classes London among 
Naples, Lisbon, Prague, and Ghent, with an estimated population 
of 160,000. In the same reign Sir Thomas Gresham, after ex- 
perience of raising foreign loans for several of our sovereigns, 
took a hint from Antwerp to build the Royal Exchange, which 
founded London's credit as the commercial centre of Europe ; 
and now it was that its Chartered Companies began to open 
channels of adventurous trade in other continents. As money 
merchants, the Jews had been supplanted by Lombards, their 
name preserved by one of the headquarters of banking ; then this 
business passed to the Goldsmiths, whose street, at the end of 
the sixteenth century, was admired by a German traveller as 
the finest in the City ; but from Goldsmiths' Row they transferred 
themselves, under the Stuarts, to Cheapside and Lombard Street. 
In recurrent fits of jealousy against alien traders, a census of them 
was sometimes taken, that under Elizabeth more than once 
numbered several thousand foreigners, chiefly Dutch and French 

In the next century the population seems to have rapidly 
increased. At Charles I's. accession it is taken to have been over 
300,000 ; then, at the end of Charles II. 's reign, two English 
statisticians differed in their estimates as between 696,000 and 
530,000. By this time, at all events, London began to count over 
Paris as the largest city in Europe. The first official census 
(1801) showed a population of over 860,000 — no such great advance 


on the rough estimates of a century back, for now were included 
suburbs that then had been independent villages. 

This growth had all along had its ups and downs : crushing 
calamities came on the heels of triumphal pageants, and the 
prosperity of the City waxed and waned with the national fortunes. 
Several disastrous fires are recorded ; and in a town largely of 
crowded wooden or half-timbered buildings they must have been 
frequent, as were visitations of pestilence. Again and again, the 
epidemics bred by filth and ignorance took tribute of victims, 
often by thousands ; almost year by year the City might be 
appalled under outbreaks either of the plague or of the more 
deadly sweating sickness that once carried off two Lord Mayors 
and six Aldermen in a few days. The memory of former visita- 
tions is eclipsed for us by the Great Plague of 1665, when in full 
light of history, London for the last time lost nearly 70,000 lives ; 
but twice already in the century there had been outbreaks almost 
as deadly in proportion to the population. 

Through that sweltering summer the bills of mortality grew 
from hundreds to thousands weekly, till the chills of autumn 
checked the seeds of death, and by the mournful Christmas time 
scared citizens could come home to whole rows of empty houses 
and closed shops. Imagination still sees on the ancient front 
of Staple Inn the red cross marking a stricken abode, from which 
a familiar picture shows a naked figure being lowered in a blanket, 
no rag allowed to spread contagion from within. It is a well- 
known tale how the plague was carried from London in a box of 
clothes to the Derbyshire village of Eyam, famed by its share in 
that awful infliction. In the City it spread steadily from west to 
east, dying down in one quarter as its ravages came to a height 
farther on. The living were forbidden to stir out at night, lest 
they should meet the dismal torches that made a warning of the 
death cart's round. Yet so many had to be buried, that by day- 
time, too, the work went on ; and it was hard to prevent thought- 
less people, in whose ears the death-bell had grown habitual, from 
crowding to the gruesome spectacle of funerals. Decent burial 
was the rule, but some corpses long lay exposed, " this disease 
making us more cruel to one another than we are to dogs," as 



moralizes Mr. Pepys, who from his refuge down the river ventured 
back to find grass growing in the court of Whitehall, and fires 
blazing in the streets by broad daylight. 

Hard upon such a curse followed the Great Fire of 1666, a 
blessing in disguise, since it cleared off the too cramped dwellings 
and purified the soil poisoned by centuries of intramural burials. 
On a September Sunday morning the fire broke out at a baker's 
in Pudding Lane, a row of old wooden houses, close to ware- 
houses full of combustible materials. Fanned by a strong east 
wind, it soon spread ; and when people should have been going 
to church, they found the streets full of terror and confusion. 
Organization and authority were wanting to fight a peril always 
to be feared. The waterworks of the time proved inefficient, their 
supply running short after a spell of dry weather ; and hands 
that should have helped were too busy in panic-stricken efforts 
to save their own property or in plundering amid the hot hurly- 
burly. The scene has been described by several eyewitnesses, 
by John Evelyn for one : 

Here we saw the Thames covered with floating goods, all the barges 
and boats laden with what some had time and courage to save, as on 
the other the carts carrying out to the fields, which for many miles were 
strewed with movables of all sorts, and tents erecting to shelter both 
people and what goods they could get away. Oh, the miserable and 
calamitous spectacle ! Such as happily the world had not seen the 
like since the foundation of it, nor be outdone till the universal con- 
flagration of it. All the sky was of a fiery aspect, like the top of a 
burning oven, and the light seen above 40 miles round for many 
nights. God grant mine eyes may never behold the like, who now 
saw above 10,000 houses all in one flame : the noise and cracking 
and thunder of the impetuous flames, the shrieking of women and 
children, the hurry of people, the fall of Towers, Houses, and Churches, 
was like a hideous storm, and the air all about so hot and inflamed 
that at last one was not able to approach it, so that they were forced 
to stand still and let the flames burn on, which they did for near two 
miles in length and one in breadth. The clouds also of smoke were 
dismal and reached upon computation near 56 miles in length. Thus 
I left it this afternoon burning, a resemblance of Sodom, or the last 
day. It forcibly called to my mind that passage non enim hie habemus 
stabilem civitatem : the ruins resembling the picture of Troy. London 
was, but is no more. 


For three days the conflagration raged almost unchecked, till 
dockyard men, under the Duke of York, were set to work pulling 
down and blowing up houses, as might have been sooner done 
had the civic rule been effective to meet such a bewildering 
emergency. It was brought to a stand at St. Dunstan's, Fleet 
Street ; and though it broke out again next day in the Temple, this 
fresh blaze was luckily got under. As it began in Pudding Lane, 
its furthest point northwards, at the Pie Corner of Smithfield, 
did not fail to yield some half jocose hint of a judgment on what 
might be taken for the citizens' besetting sin. It ravaged almost 
all the City up to the wall ; but the north-eastern corner about 
Bishopsgate was spared, leaving Gresham College to be turned 
into temporary municipal headquarters, along with St. Helen's 
Church, and its tiny neighbour, St. Ethelburga's, one of the 
oldest in London, passed by many who hardly notice its entrance 
squeezed in among shops. Several fine old buildings were then 
saved, to vanish in our own time, like Sir Paul Pindar's house in 
Bishopsgate, a victim of the Great Eastern Railway, but its 
fine timbered front is treasured in the South Kensington Museum. 
The Hall of Crosby Place came to be demolished only the other 
day, after being used as a Presbyterian church and a restaurant ; 
and it is now to be re-erected at Chelsea as a students' settlement. 
This was at one time, as Shakespeare shows, the house of 
Richard III. built (1466) by the sumptuous Alderman Sir John 
Crosby, whose tomb, with that of Sir Thomas Gresham and 
others of note, is in St. Helen's Church, which, secluded in its 
quiet old nook, makes one of the City sights. 

Paternoster Row had vainly sought to save its stocks by storing 
them in the crypt of St. Paul's. The Tower proved a safer deposi- 
tory, for not only was it to windward of the fire, but its gunners 
did not stick at battering down blazing houses about it. Half 
the dwellings that cumbered London Bridge were burned before 
the fire could be checked on its way to Southwark. Here and 
there it appears to have swept over some houses or groups of 
houses without licking them up ; and gutted walls must have in 
part escaped total destruction, for bits of old structure have been 
found incorporated in rebuilt churches. More than 13,000 houses 


were destroyed, with nearly 90 churches, in some 400 streets, 
from which at least 200,000 people were hurried out homeless, for 
the most part to bivouac in the open fields, turned into camps 
as far as Hampstead Heath, whence awestruck eyes looked down 
upon a glare that realized their conceptions of the Judgment 
Day. The damage was reckoned at over ten million pounds ; 
but little loss of life came to be reported, while, indeed, many 
persons may have disappeared without being accounted for in the 
widespread confusion. 

The ashes of the fire are said to have been carried as far as 
Windsor, and at Oxford the sky was seen dimmed by that awful 
eclipse, which spread consternation all over the country. On 
recovering from their stupor, the people soon began casting about 
on whom to lay the blame of a calamity that any day might 
have been brought about by some drunken man in the rotten old 
houses beside the Thames. Foreign incendiaries were at first 
suspected, and Frenchmen and Dutchmen had a bad time of it 
in London. Next, some of Cromwell's old soldiers were executed 
for an imaginary conspiracy. Then, in his angry mood, Protestant 
John Bull took Papistry as scapegoat. A Frenchman named 
Hubert, who seems to have been insane, was hanged on his own 
confession, full of contradictions as it was, that he had set the 
flames a-going with a fire-ball put into his hands by an accom- 
plice. The Monument erected at the starting-point of the fire 
was furnished with an inscription recording a prelude to the 
Popish Plot ; but this " tall bully " no longer " lifts its head and 
lies," its groundless libel having been wiped off in 1830. It has 
been the Monument's fate not to be taken very seriously once that 
scare of Catholic conspiracy had died out. In the beginning of 
the eighteenth century, Ned Ward jokes about it as a gymnasium 
for young tavern waiters to practise activity by running up and 
down its steps. While it now seems a little thrust aside, the 
Monument then stood opposite the end of London Bridge, the 
footway to which ran through a passage by St. Magnus' Church. 

The rebuilding of the City was pushed on in haste. It is a 
pity that advantage of the clearance was not taken to adopt plans 
offered by Wren and Evelyn for a new London more regularly 


and openly built. But the citizens were too much set on keeping 
to their own sites, in some cases being able to use the old founda- 
tions, so that the new streets sprang up on much the same lines, 
though on a larger scale and with more solid architecture. Wren's 
design was a pattern of straight streets opening into piazzas, 
in the largest of which a ring of public buildings was to enclose 
the Royal Exchange. Now disappeared even the opening of 
Cheapside, Avhere jousts and games had been held before the 
ground became so valuable as building sites. The name tells 
how West Cheap was a market-place, in which stood an ornate 
cross, near the famous church of St. Mary-le-Bow, so called from 
the arches of the Norman crypt upon which it was rebuilt, that 
also gave a name to the ecclesiastical Court of Arches once held 
here ; and this still asserts a primacy among London churches 
by being the scene of the confirmation of Bishops in the province 
of Canterbury. To be born within the sound of Bow Bells is a 
proverb for a Cockney, those very bells heard by Dick Whitting- 
ton calling him back from Highgate Hill to be Lord Mayor of 
London. But one brood of born Cockneys lost their birthright, 
since the ringing of Bow Bells had a few years ago to be suspended 
while certain repairs were carried out, or, as exaggerating news- 
papers put it, for fear of wrecking Wren's beautiful steeple, that 
bears aloft the dragon emblem of the City. 

The City, rebuilt in a few years, had suffered other than material 
loss. The few nobles who still kept mansions there would take 
the opportunity of removing ; as did citizens, who, after the 
Plague and Fire, thought of building houses in opener suburbs. 
Shopkeepers of Cheapside and Ludgate Hill, without waiting for 
new premises, set up in Covent Garden and the Strand, where the 
West-end grew upon the misfortune of the East. That scorching 
east wind had blown good to other proprietors, notably to those 
of the New River Company, which, opened early in the century, 
began by drying up the means of its promoter, Sir Hugh Middle- 
ton ; but now so many wells had been choked by the debris of 
the fire that its waters became a Pactolus for future generations 
of shareholders. But, indeed, so far back as Henry III., London 
had filled its conduits by pipes laid from the Tyburn. 


Now may be marked the gradual change that made the City no 
more than part of a Greater London. About the same time also, 
its social position was going down. Hitherto its apprentices had 
come from the upper class as often as not, trade being no discredit 
to good blood, even in the far back days when to have made three 
perilous voyages across the sea gave a trafficking adventurer the 
rank of thane. Besant, examining a list of some six score mayors 
and magistrates in the century before the Fire, finds that half of 
them are recorded as sons of country gentlemen, and that in the 
Stuart reigns apprenticeship fees had rapidly risen to a figure of 
tens or even hundreds of pounds. In the Jacobean play "Eastward 
Ho !" the two young " Flatcaps " who may have given Hogarth 
a hint for his industrious and idle apprentices, can both claim 
gentle birth. Pepys' father was a tailor, while he had a lord for 
cousin, a connection bulking in his diary above memories of the 
shop. At that period Lord North sent one son to the Temple, 
another to the City as apprentice to a Turkey merchant. Lords 
in the olden days were not ashamed to buy and sell ; and even 
Kings would do a turn of trade in their high-handed style, debasing 
the coinage being an " operation " always open to them. The 
Flatcaps of Fleet Street might well be gently born, though called 
on to perform menial offices in their master's household, at a day 
when pages and scholars, too, passed through a stern school of 
humility. But about the time of the Fire began a slump in the 
demand for a business career among scions of aristocracy. Under 
Queen Anne the Spectator saw a gulf opened between Court and 
City : " The inhabitants of St. James's, notwithstanding they 
live under the same laws and speak the same language, are a 
distinct people from those of Cheapside, who are likewise removed 
from those of the Temple on one side, and those of Smithfield on 
the other, by several climates and degrees in their way of thinking 
and conversing together." Yet, as the Tatler lets out, there 
would be always aspiring cits rebellious against " the order and 
distinction which of right ought to be between St. James and 
Milk Street, the Camp and Cheapside." 

The eighteenth century shows the citizens an isolated class, 
content to live by themselves in solid comfort, to be looked 


down on by fine gentry at the other end of the town, to be carica- 
tured by out-at-elbows authors, and to bring up their sons with 
no ambition but that of becoming " warm " men by sticking to 
the counter. This depreciation lasted down to the days of 
Thackeray, since when we have seen City stocks much risen in 
the Vanity Fair market. But always the prosperous Newcomes 
had a good chance of finding noble husbands for their daughters ; 
and ex -Lord Mayors, worth a " plum," would realize it to buy 
land in the country, where three generations or less made as good 
a gentleman as any in the land. 

Meanwhile the pressure of room and the growth of the suburbs 
more and more set citizens on living away from their business, 
not only when they were able to retire for good to 

Suburban villas, highway-side retreats, 

That dread the encroachment of our growing streets. 

Some prosperous traders could now afford to have two homes, 
hibernating in town till May stirred them to dream of " meadows 
trim with daisies pied " and " hedgerow elms on hillocks green," 
such as still cluster close to London outskirts. Defoe tells us 
how the chalk heights of Sutton had in his day already become a 
favourite site for such retreats, and how Middlesex was dotted 
with not less than three thousand houses, for the most part 
genteel enough to have stabling for their own coaches. The 
fields covered by our crowded Tower Hamlets were then to Lon- 
don much what Hampton or Chislehurst is to our generation. 
The roomy old Georgian mansions still fringing Epping Forest 
had not always to abate their rents because cut off from the City 
by a wilderness of mean streets. 

So in time came about the further revolution by which the City 
ceased to be a place of residence, except for a garrison of watch- 
men or caretakers, its life every morning flooded by a tide pouring 
in from outside to ebb strongly back at evening in crowds eager 
to get home, by a journey that may take them fifty miles and 
more, or to suburban outskirts reached by various wheels of for- 
tune, or only to some shabby purlieu still within reach of a walk. 
Few of us, indeed, can afford to live in an area where sites may 


fetch fifty pounds per square foot, and where every tall block of 
buildings fetches rent enough to hire a dozen Venetian palaces 
or castles in Tyrol. The City becomes a mere workshop to those 
who know it only in business hours, their affections and amuse- 
ments and private interests being planted out from Hornsey to 
Norwood, from Berkhamsted to Brighton, or yet further afield. 
While Greater London has been growing by miles and millions, 
the inhabitants of what was once walled London have decreased 
by a hundred thousand souls in a century or so, now to be 
counted at little more than a score of thousands, swollen nearly 
twenty-fold during business hours. 

The City churches, as rebuilt by Wren, though then reduced 
in number, soon became too many for their shrinking congrega- 
tions, who also found other folds in chapels or wandered shep- 
herdless in a glacial age of faith. Half a century ago the work of 
abandoned pastors had been mainly reduced to what is profanely 
called " eating their heads off." There used to be a joke about 
a City incumbent's stereotyped speech at an annual dinner, which 
gave him, as he put it, a welcome occasion of once a year meeting 
a considerable number of his parishioners. Some of these 
officiants themselves live in distant suburbs, travelling by train 
to what duties they can contrive for their stipends. Some City 
parishes have been amalgamated, and the sites of certain churches 
sold to build others where they are more wanted. But with the 
revival of Church energy our generation has seen various efforts 
at turning the empty churches to use. Gifted preachers succeed 
in attracting from other parts of town congregations fit, if few, 
to break the Sabbath quiet of their idle parishes. Several of the 
City churches are now kept open on weekdays, some of them 
inviting sightseers by their old memorials or fine architectural 
features, like the domed interior of St. Stephen's, Walbrook, a 
miniature of St. Paul's, or the graceful spire of St. Dunstan's-in- 
the-East ; and at some, short daily services, addresses or organ 
recitals are given at hours convenient for busy men. Certain 
curious functions are provided for by bequest, as the " Lion " 
sermon at St. Katherine Cree, instituted by an early African 
adventurer in commemoration of his escape from a lion, scared 


off when he knelt down to pray in face of a danger against which 
modern travellers keep their powder dry. The " Flower service " 
at this church is also a notable function. A truly Christian use 
of certain places of worship is opening them in the morning as 
refuge for workers who, having come to the City by cheap early 
trains, might else have to hang about the streets for an hour or 
two, in wet or cold, before being due at their places of business. 
In more than one church a small library is kept for the use of 
involuntary idlers. But on Sundays, for the most part, many 
bells ring here in vain, calling citizens to prayer. " These citizens 
hear no more the pious call. Along the leafy lanes of Weybridge, 
on the breezy chaussee of Hampstead Heath, over the turf of 
Wimbledon, across the furzy common of Barnes, everywhere — 
all round London — they are moving churchwards, obedient to 
the harsh tinkle of the little bell in the perky new suburban 
church : but the loud tongue of the sonorous City bell strikes not 
upon their ears." 

After the churches, we must notice the halls of the City Com- 
panies, several of them worth visiting for their show of portraits 
and plate, not to mention the good cheer set forth in them, upon 
occasion, for fortunate guests. Like the churches, these buildings 
and their owners no longer play such a part as once in City life, 
though certain companies still exercise important functions, as 
the control of Billingsgate Market by the Fishmongers, and the 
hall-marking of plate by the Goldsmiths. Of the old trade- 
societies in London, once flourishing by scores, some are now 
extinct, some represent crafts no longer carried on, and all of them 
contain many members who might be puzzled to teach the 
mysteries which they are supposed to profess. Princes and nobles 
are honoured by nominal membership. An Archbishop is a 
Skinner ; a Field-Marshal a Goldsmith ; the late King of Belgium 
was a Turner ; the new King of Norway is a Draper. Our late 
sovereign made an honorary member of half a dozen companies, 
and had his sons in partnership. Peers, parsons, doctors, artists, 
soldiers, country gentlemen, living in all parts of the kingdom, 
have become entitled to call themselves Haberdashers, Grocers, 
Leather-sellers, or what not, keeping up a perhaps hereditary 



connection with such trades, sometimes as a matter of sentiment 
as well as of interest, while many real City men do not concern 
themselves about the " freedom " without which at one time they 
would have been barred from its business. 

Freedom of the City through membership of one of the Com- 
panies is gained in various ways : by patrimonial inheritance ; by 
" servitude," now for the most part nominal ; or by purchase, in 
which the payment of a lump sum is taken for title enough. 
Besides chances of advantage from the common property, these 
initiates have in their hands the separate government of the City 
that is such an eyesore to municipal reformers, for since 1475 the 
Lord Mayor and Sheriffs have been elected by the liverymen of 
the City, and the Mayor must be a member of one of the twelve 
great Companies, distinguished among three times as many in all. 

The wealth of the great Companies is proverbial. Exact 
accounts in each case are not always open to outsiders, but the 
richest are understood to be the Goldsmiths, the Fishmongers, 
the Mercers and the Drapers — this last through the sale of Drapers' 
Garden, an oasis that bloomed in the City till it grew to be worth 
a king's ransom for building sites. Their property in some parts 
of the country has been enhanced by time, as, for instance, a 
bequest of £9,000 to the Haberdashers' Company for the founda- 
tion of a school and almshouses at Monmouth in 1641, part of 
which was invested in a farm at New Cross and now brings in an 
income of something like £15,000 a year. In the City itself, 
Threadneedle Street (properly T^ree-needle) must be a gold-mine 
to its landlords, the Merchant Taylors. Part of such wealth is 
ear-marked for trust purposes ; part has been taken into the 
hands of the Charity Commissioners ; but the rest is spent at the 
discretion of the members, acting through a Court of Master, 
Wardens, and Assistants, who come to power in rotation by 
attending to the business of their Companies. An old reproach 
was their superabundance being spent on too much eating and 
drinking, and on the entertainment of guests brought in from 
highways and byways. In our time, at all events, the Companies 
have shown a liberal public spirit, spending nobly on educational 
and other institutions, even without any direct claim on them, 




as in the case of the Drapers' benefaction to Oxford. They still 
keep up their traditional name for sumptuous hospitality ; but 
the scenes of gorging and gormandizing satirized by Thackeray 
are as much out of date as the armour in the Tower, and City 
banquets now invite to a more refined conviviality, cheered by 
good music, if sometimes rather oppressed by undigested oratory. 
An invitation to such a feast gave me a curious experience a 
generation ago. I was writing an account of scientific progress, 
in which it was desirable to mention a certain inventor, whose 
name had fallen a little into the background, since his most 
notable addition to our resources went to be " made in Germany," 
the chimneys of its original factory at this day standing idle. 
I could not find out whether he were still alive ; I looked into 
books of reference in vain ; I consulted scientific friends who had 
no certain knowledge ; still uninformed, I had to give up the 
search, when the hour drew nigh for keeping my engagement in 
the City. There, of all persons in the world, I met the very 
man, all alive as Master of the hospitable Company. But this 
perfunctory president at our feast had so far strayed from the 
tradition of the elders as to be a vegetarian and teetotaller, a 
regime that kept him going to a good age, for he died only a year 
or two ago. Not long before his death scientific brethren 
testified their esteem for him at a banquet, where every possible 
display was made of mauve, a colour introduced by his experi- 
ments ; but I fear that honoured guest may have also had to look 
on red and white wine. As a master of revels when I sat his 
guest, he proved a little of a wet blanket, his principles being so 
strict that he would not allow the loving-cup to be handed round. 
Everybody has heard of the loving-cup, a bowl of elaborately- 
spiced cordial, in which the chairman drinks to the health of his 
guests, then sends it on to be sipped with a time-honoured 
ceremony, where three men are always on their legs together, 
one to wipe the rim and raise the heavy lid for the next to drink, 
while another stands at his back to defend him from being stabbed 
while his hands are full, as might happen, it seems, in the good 
old days. That recalls the story of the Dean who, not loving 
an historian as celebrated for discourtesy as for learning, and being 


put up to propose his health at a banquet, eulogized him as one 
who " so well illustrates the manners of our barbarous ancestors." 

At an earlier date, " sae far I sprachled up the brae," I dinnered 
with a Lord Mayor, of whom also I have a tale to tell that need 
not now violate the laws of hospitality. When he was as yet an 
Alderman, acting in the absence of the then Lord Mayor, I had 
come before him, or rather behind him, under the following 
circumstances. It is not known to every Briton that the law, on 
obsolete fiscal account, forbids him to import less than eighty 
pounds of tobacco. When, as I was in the way of doing, he 
imports a box of cigars, he has to make a declaration before a 
magistrate that they are for his own use, then, as a matter of 
grace, the Custom House lets them pass on his paying the duty. 
After experience, I hit on the plan of having my cigars consigned 
to a country J.P., who easily got through this idle form, and 
smoked some of them as commission for his friendly services. 
But in London a small fee that goes with the signing of such 
declarations is a perquisite of police magistrates' clerks, and 
it is no pleasant job hanging about among the clients of a police- 
court. A friend advised me to try the Mansion House, as I did, 
with the result of being driven about for an hour or so among 
its officials, all lost in wonder, pity, and indignation at my 
ignorance of their routine. At last I came into the hands of a 
gorgeous ex-military personage, the City Marshal, who good- 
naturedly undertook to get the business done for me on the score 
of having had a brother officer of my name. He took me into 
the Lord Mayor's private room, from which I had a back view 
of a dignitary on the bench, who, without having ever seen or 
heard of me, hurriedly attested my signature of a declaration in 
his presence. Now about that time that worthy magistrate, 
who was also an M.P., a Greek scholar, and, if I err not, a dissent- 
ing preacher, took a lead in opposing Bradlaugh's claim to treat 
Parliamentary oaths as a matter of form. My private opinion 
was that his own practice, in my case, did not justify him in 
standing up for the exactitude of solemn declarations. 

As I have fallen into mere anecdotage, let me recall another 
dinner at the Gresham Club, which modestly nestles under the 


wing of the Mansion House, and has, or had, its own name for 
sumptuous banquets. My host here was a jovial Irishman, who 
in those same days had this tale to tell. He had gone down to a 
fishing inn in Essex, where he met an agreeable stranger, and 
was playing billiards with him, when a waiter came in addressing 
this gentleman as " Mr. Bradlaugh." — " Bradlaugh !" quoth my 
friend. " No relation, I suppose, to the notorious scoundrel ?" 
" Sir," was the answer, " I suppose I am the notorious scoundrel !" 
But anyone who knew that indiscreet questioner will understand 
how, after all, those two spent the evening on the most sociable 

Everybody in London knows the Mansion House, that eigh- 
teenth-century capitol of the City ; if not everybody has entered 
it as a fortunate guest or an unfortunate culprit. Almost every- 
body in Europe has heard of the Lord Mayor, this palace's tenant, 
about whom it was said of old : 

No lord of Paris, Venice, or Florence, 
In dignity or honour goeth to him nigh. 

Foreigners are supposed to take an exaggerated view of the Lord 
Mayor's place in the State, but, indeed, he plays a part greater 
than is borne in mind by all Englishmen, as appears by his presence 
at such national functions as the proclamation of a new sovereign, 
for which he has once and again been mouthpiece. More than 
once he has withstood a monarch to the face, as when Beckford 
made George III. flush to be addressed with uncourtly frankness. 
Within the City no man is greater than he, where the King's 
troops may not pass through but by his leave ; while only certain 
regiments march here with fixed bayonets and colours flying in 
sign of old connection with London. To his favoured ear is daily 
trusted the watchword of the King's own Tower. Yet this 
potentate is merely the " first best " citizen of character, means, 
and standing, who has taken the trouble to qualify himself to 
hold such an office in turn ; and all the more plainly does it show 
the average common-sense and public spirit of the citizens that 
their figure-head, drawn by his team of permanent officials, 
seldom does discredit to what is hardly a choice. 


The richest, and perhaps the ablest, men in the City may not 
care nowadays to put themselves in the way of such a burden ; 
some are even inclined to despise the rather ludicrous pomp 
exhibited in the circus procession of the Lord Mayor's Show, to 
the annual delight of the vulgar and of children. At the last 
Mayoral inauguration, it may be mentioned, the time-honoured 
display was turned into a quasi-military demonstration, which 
showed the City keeping up with the times. Till little more than 
half a century ago the Lord Mayor progressed by water in the 
City barge, as became the Admiral of the Thames. There was 
a time when prudent citizens often paid a heavy fine to escape 
from honourable duties that were like to be perilous as well as 
burdensome. Nowadays the City offices are sought by a class 
of men put into training for them by playing minor parts in civic 
life, and working their way up to that crowning year of great- 
ness. The election of Lord Mayor is usually a matter of cut-and- 
dry routine ; yet not always, for in our time there has been at 
least one instance of a popular Alderman rejected by the sober 
civic fathers as unworthy to fill the chair, by reason of a weakness 
that might have passed for a qualification in more roistering days. 
The rule is for the two senior Aldermen who have not " passed 
the chair " to be presented by the Liverymen to the Court of 
Aldermen, by whom the first will be chosen as a matter of course. 

The Lord Mayor is called on for prudence, dignity, industry. 
Some eloquence is desirable ; a good digestion must be prayed 
for ; but what seems most absolutely necessary is the special 
product of City life, since the official salary of £10,000 scrimply 
meets the expenses of his year of office. He has to entertain 
statesmen, princes, sometimes sovereigns : no foreign potentate's 
reception in England is hall-marked without a City feast. He 
has to act as Grand Almoner of the nation, collecting and dis- 
tributing vast funds to alleviate disasters, both at home and 
abroad. His petty duties as a police magistrate seem of small 
account among those manifold functions. A proud man must he 
be who first puts on that robe, and a weary man when he puts 
it off, unyoked from the round of duties, banquets, and cere- 
monials, as souvenir of which he should carry away a baronetcy 


; . 





on the top of the knighthood he is like to have won as Sheriff ; 
but never again, in town or country, will he sit in such a blaze of 
lordliness as for a year threw his own name into shade. 

The Guildhall, standing back from main thoroughfares, is less 
well known to strangers than the Mansion House, deserving, as 
it does, to be better known. This council-house of the City has 
had to be rebuilt more than once ; but part of its walls stood 
through the Fire ; and the other day was disclosed the stonework 
of two of its fifteenth- century windows, long blocked up and for- 
gotten till suspected by the City surveyor's keen eye. It is used 
not only for City business and public gatherings, but in part as 
an extensive library and a museum preserving a collection of 
Roman and other remains of ancient London. Here also is the 
art gallery of the Corporation, that cannot, indeed, vie with those 
of Liverpool and Manchester, but contains some pictures of in- 
terest as showing what London was in former days, and also 
occasional loan exhibitions. Not the least of the sights is the 
great hall, with its fine timber roof and Gothic windows, and at 
one end the huge effigies of Gog and Magog, whose monstrous 
absurdity is half-masked in their legendary renown. These 
works of art are only two centuries old, but they represent older 
figures once carried in the Lord Mayor's procession as somehow 
symbolizing the greatness of the City when other cities, indeed, 
were proud to possess similar Palladia. Who the mysterious 
Gog and Magog were I cannot say, which our irreverent age has 
made bold to rename Gammon and Mammon, as fit patron saints 
for much that goes on in the City. 

Another sight for strangers is the Royal Exchange, whose 
open court, with its central statue of Queen Victoria, under 
whom it was rebuilt, is to be surrounded by fresco panels repre- 
senting famous scenes in the history of the City. More than 
half of them are already in place, as Mr. Stanhope Forbes' s picture 
of the Great Fire, Mr. Ernest Croft's " Opening of the Exchange 
by Elizabeth," and Mr. Seymour Lucas's " Granting of London's 
Charter by William the Conqueror," with more than one but 
indirectly connected with London, like Leighton's " Phoenicians 
trading on the Coast of Cornwall," and Mr. Gow's " Nelson leaving 


Portsmouth " for victory or Westminster Abbey. There is 
still some formal business done in the Exchange, that might seem 
at most times a mere lounge for idlers, but at certain days and 
hours — notably about three in the afternoon — it may be found 
a scene of dealings, many of which are now specialized in the 
Coal Exchange, the Corn Exchange, and other separate build- 
ings, while in the coulisses of the Royal Exchange are housed 
the transactions of Lloyd's, that rose from a coffee-house to be 
a commercial institution. More astir with bargaining is the 
adjacent " House " of speculation, whose activity even overflows 
into the street. But the Stock Exchange, with its mysteries 
of the " Kaffir Circus " and the " Jungle," and its cryptic worship 
of " Berthas," " Doras," and suchlike, stands by no means open 
to the public, for one of the schoolboy tricks of its roistering 
members is a rough handling of any uninitiated visitor who 
presumptuously or unwarily may have made his way into their 
sacred precincts. Hardy youth, with a pencil cocked in its ear 
and a counterfeit air of familiarity, sometimes accomplishes the 
adventure unscathed. 

The Bank of England is open to all having business there; 
and certain introductions will make a sesame charm to unlock 
its penetralia for the exhibition of undazzling treasures of gold 
and silver, as well as historic curiosities in the form of old bank- 
notes, one dating from 1699. I have had the satisfaction of hold- 
ing in each hand a million of money for half a minute, and I 
was invited to help myself to as many ingots as I could lift — a 
truly negligible quantity. All the same, I observed that, in 
visiting such wealth, one was attended by discreetly watchful 
eyes, a precaution said to have proved not needless in regard to 
the attendants of certain Oriental potentates treated to a so 
congenial sight, where sovereigns seem to be lying about as if 
common as stones, and bricks of pure gold are wheeled along 
on trucks. What strikes one as the most enchanter-like feature 
in this treasure-house, is a magical machine for weighing sovereigns, 
one by one coming down through a spout, to place themselves 
upon a little button that, after an instant of deliberation, con- 
temptuously tosses them away if they prove a grain too light ; 


then back they go to the Mint that stands beside the Tower, 
within whose walls its spells were worked till a century ago. The 
City's financial citadel guards some twenty millions in bullion, 
besides millions in coin and notes. Its own garrison is over a 
thousand strong, and at night it is under charge of a party of 
the Guards, who may be seen marching into the City through the 
shades of eve ; but in wet weather the officer seems expected to 
pay their fare on the Underground Railway, so one hopes it be 
true that, at dinner in the Bank, he finds a sovereign beneath 
his plate. In the Bank parlour, matters of such financial magni- 
tude are settled that one may well tread delicately on its soft 
carpet and hold one's breath, looking out upon a gardened court 
that was once the churchyard of St. Christopher-le-Stocks, a 
parish more than covered by our cathedral of Mammon. 

The open space before these institutions is through the day 
the liveliest scene in London, an exchange of passengers in all 
directions, some few mere idle visitors, but most of the hurrying 
throng will be such as "go into the City " on the business of 
gaining, or losing, money. How this is done I hardly understand, 
authors being seldom versed in the letters L.S.D. ; nor am I 
qualified to be showman to those bulls and bears who play such 
clever tricks on this crowded stage. I vaguely conceive the main 
point to be buying for less or selling for more than the operator 
judges something to be worth, a game in which someone must 
be at a loss in the long-run. But this much seems clear to the 
meanest comprehension, that City speculators cannot always be 
so selfish as they are represented by impecunious poets and 
moralists. I am continually getting circulars from firms who 
inform me that, having a certain chance of making large profits 
on such and such a concern, they propose to let me share the 
advantage of their shrewd experience. Not caring to benefit 
at the expense of so open-hearted philanthropists, I always 
throw their circulars into the waste-paper basket, along with the 
lithographed letter of a confiding gentleman who, a total stranger 
to me, kindly offers to lend me any sum I may require up to 
ten thousand pounds. Goldsmith was not so trusted, not even 
by his tailor, 



Thus it might strike simple minds. But more cynical observers 
take a less charitable view of City life, declaring a considerable 
part of the business done there to be the cheating of fools by 
knaves. There always were cheats as well as gulls in the City, 
but in old days, it appears, knaves ran the risk of such rough 
experiences as standing in the pillory, being whipped at the cart's 
tail, having some or other brand put upon them for the scorn of 
honest citizens. Nowadays men hold up their heads in the 
City of whom it is openly told, not always as a reproach, that 
their business is reckless gambling with other people's money 
trusted to them on the score of shameless lying. Such scoun- 
drels, when they have brought their dupes to beggary, still seem 
to flourish like green bay-trees : as undischarged bankrupts 
they have somehow the means of living in luxury, and would 
fain flaunt in society their halo of impudent fraud. Of late 
years, it is said, unclean birds of prey have grown fatter and 
bolder than ever in the City, where no sooner has one flock of 
victims been scandalously plucked than another, blinded by stupid 
greed, comes fluttering into the traps baited for them, as trust- 
fully as the pigeons that make such tame guests about the Guild- 
hall. If that ravenous breed be allowed to increase, will it not 
ruin London City as surely as ever did fire, and plague, and 
pirates ? But let us remember how, while advertisement is the 
breath of life to blaring charlatans, the mass of more or less honest 
dealers carry on their business quietly and without observation, 
in offices where gas or electric light are often turned upon a show 
of dingy ledgers representing the treasures of Aladdin's cave. 

One more temple of commerce has yet to be mentioned, and 
that not the least in importance, whose ministers bring its services 
to every door. The Post-Office, like the Bank, makes a monu- 
ment of London's medieval piety, standing as it does on the site 
of St. Martin' s-le-Grand, of old a monastery and collegiate church, 
one of several that nestled under the wing of St. Paul's. As 
London has outswollen its nucleus, so this institution has had 
to split itself into branches, the largest now growing upon the 
other side of the way, soon to line nearly the whole length of 
Newgate Street : one rooted apart beyond St. Paul's, another 


as far off as Clerkenwell, all with suckers and grafts over every 
quarter of the Metropolis, and filaments thrown out to the 
farthest ends of the kingdom like the nerves of an organized 
body. The Post-Office of last generation is already little more 
than a chief receptacle into whose yawning mouths slides the 
City's correspondence, singly, by dozens, by hundreds, by sackfuls, 
at the rate of millions a day or, say, some thousand millions a 
year — but I forbear to overwhelm the reader with statistics, of 
which one might here make an amazing show, as in the vaults 
of the Bank of England. 

The business of London nowadays has to be done mostly by 
post, when its wealth is on paper rather than in goods or bullion. 
A few crafts still linger in its high-rented byways. A consider- 
able part of it, notably on the river-side, where the Custom House, 
Billingsgate Market, Fishmongers' Hall, and Cannon Street 
Station are its most monumental institutions, has to handle some 
of the wares which it exchanges and distributes. But its richest 
trade is money-making through the buying and selling of credit, 
carried on chiefly in the quarter between the Mansion House 
and Bishopsgate. This restricted area, where no cranes swing 
and no vans rumble unless on their way through Old Broad 
Street to Liverpool Street Station, is what the financial world 
knows and reverences as the City, par excellence. And in its 
fullest meaning the City measures only a square mile or so, amid 
a hundredfold that area now bearing the name of London. 


" Can you tell me, sir, what is this large building ?" asked a 
civil fellow-traveller of mine on the top of an omnibus ; and as 
soon as I had got over a shock of mild surprise, I was able 
to let him know that we were passing St. Paul's Cathedral. 
No Londoner would be so ill-informed, for the dome of St. Paul's 
makes indeed a City landmark, its crown reared to a level with 
the brow of Hampstead Heath. Yet St. Paul's is no longer so 
familiar to the citizens as when in every sense it was the centre 
of London life. On special occasions it draws together huge 
congregations from all over the metropolis, as for ceremonies 
of national thanksgiving, or when a roistering multitude gathers 
about it to hail the first stroke of the New Year ; nor do its ordinary 
services waste their sweetness on a stony void. But to most 
Londoners this is a monument rather than a fane ; and among 
the throng of Mammon worshippers that hurry by it, but a small 
proportion find time to enter the doors unless for a peep of 

Hereabouts is the highest point of the City, as recorded on an 
old stone preserved in the rebuilt walls of Panyer Alley, leading 
from the east end of Paternoster Row into Newgate Street. It 
is supposed that a Roman temple stood on this site, succeeded 
by a Christian church. The first authentic church of St. Paul's 
dates from Ethelbert, in the beginning of the seventh century, 
built and rebuilt, till medieval art produced a Gothic Cathedral 
larger than the present one, topped by what was then the tallest 
spire of Christendom, and adorned, no doubt, with sumptuous 
ornament as with monuments that seem to have fallen into 
decay before they were swept away by the Great Fire. This 


st. Paul's from the north-east corner of 
the churchyard 


Cathedral swallowed up the parish church of St. Faith's at the 
east end. Several times it had been destroyed or damaged by 
fire ; and its spire was ruined by lightning in Elizabeth's reign, 
a disaster taken by zealots of the old faith for a judgment. 
St. Paul's had then come to be an open lounge as well as a place 
of worship. At certain pillars lawyers were wont to hold con- 
sultations with their clients. Ladies and their gallants kept 
assignations here. Porters carried loads through the church as 
a short cut. Servants stood waiting to be hired. One aisle, 
known as Duke Humphrey's Walk — from some memorial of that 
Duke of Gloucester, Henry IV. 's son, who was, however, buried 
at St. Albans — grew notorious as a haunt of bankrupts, beggars, 
and other penniless idlers ; hence the proverb " to dine with 
Duke Humphrey," who need never want guests even in this 
richest city of the world. 

It was outside, at the north-east corner, that the famous 
Paul's Cross pulpit stood, about which Latimer drew crowds by 
his homely eloquence. " There is one that passeth all the other, 
and is the most diligent prelate and preacher in all England. 
And will ye know who it is ? I will tell you. It is the devil. He 
is the most diligent preacher of all other ; he is never out of his 
diocese ; he is never from his cure ; ye shall never find him un- 
occupied ; he is ever in his parish ; he keepeth residence at all 
times. . . . He is no lordly loiterer from his cure, but a busy 
ploughman, so that among all the prelates, and all the pack of 
them that have cure, the devil shall go for my money. For he 
still applieth his business. Therefore, ye unpreaching prelates, 
learn of the devil to be diligent in doing of your office. Learn 
of the devil. And if you will not learn of God nor good man, for 
shame, learn of the devil." This pulpit is now to be restored, 
as a matter of sentiment rather than of utility, one supposes, 
since there is not much room for an open-air congregation in the 
corner of the Churchyard where shops and offices wall in a 
gardened oasis of rest. 

Protestant preaching, it is to be feared, did not foster rever- 
ence for a sacred building. At that time St. Paul's seems to have 
been allowed to fall into sad disrepair. Under Charles I. began 


a restoration, soon interrupted by the Civil War, that let the 
Cathedral serve as a stable for troopers' horses. Then came 
the Great Fire, from the ashes of which arose Wren's master- 
piece, begun 1675, and not completed till Queen Anne's reign, 
as commemorated at the entrance by a statue of that sovereign, 
restored in our time. Behind this, at the foot of the steps, an 
inscription marks the spot where the aged Queen Victoria offered 
the thanksgiving of her Diamond Jubilee. 

Wren's Cathedral blends some Gothic features with the classical 
style he had mainly in view for a nobly massive structure, whose 
dome but gathers fresh dignity from its grimy environment. 
Fancy how the white fretwork of Milan, or the colour of St. Mark's, 
would have borne the smoke of London ! Had Wren had his 
way, he would no doubt have gained an opener space to display 
the proportions of his masterpiece, too much pressed upon by the 
hasty rebuilding of the City. In internal ornament, also, his 
design was starved, a reproach which our time labours to wipe 
away. At first, the effect of the interior must have been rather 
austere, and it was long before cold Georgian piety ceased to be 
suspicious of decoration. In vain the Royal Academy offered 
to consecrate its establishment by contributing religious paint- 
ings. The first statues introduced were those of Howard the 
philanthropist and Samuel Johnson, guarding the entrance to the 
Choir in classical scantness of costume, which has caused incon- 
siderate visitors to mistake them as St. Peter and St. Paul, the 
more readily for the emblematic prison-key put in Howard's 
hand. This was the statue on which Charles Lamb, " saving the 
reverence due to Holy Paul," would willingly have spat, because 
the reformer of prisons had recommended solitary confinement 
for runaway Blue-coat boys. Of the old monuments, the only 
one saved — apart from fragments preserved in the Crypt — was 
that of Dr. Donne, which now stands on the south side of the 
Chancel, opposite the bronze effigy of Dr. Mandell Creighton. 

Once monuments were admitted, the long French war supplied 
a good show of them, and the aisles are lined with memorials of 
military and naval heroes, whose whiskered and uniformed 
effigies sometimes make an absurd contrast with the allegorical 

st. Paul's from the surrey side 



figures that seemed appropriate in their Philistine age. The 
most imposing is Alfred Stevens' grand monument to Wellington, 
at last topped by the equestrian statue that was part of his 
design, a feature as to which architects and artists appear to be 
at variance. This is on the north side of the Nave, near the 
recumbent effigies of Lord Leighton and of Gordon, that mark 
an altered taste. Nelson stands on the other side, at the corner 
of the transept. 

O saviour of the silver-coasted isle, 

O shaker of the Baltic and the Nile, 

If aught of things that here befall 

Touch a spirit among things divine, 

If love of country move thee there at all, 

Be glad because his bones are laid by thine ! 

The monuments here are only cenotaphs : for the actual tombs 
we must descend into the Crypt, where impressive gloom shrouds 
the sarcophagi of Wellington and Nelson in the central space. 
Next to this, the most interesting spot in the Crypt is the north- 
east aisle, known as Painters' Corner, from a cluster of artists' 
graves, among them Sir Joshua Reynolds, Turner, Landseer, 
Millais and Leighton. Here, too, a quite modern note is struck 
by a group of memorials to war-correspondents, whom Welling- 
ton might have hanged. In this corner is the plain tomb of Wren 
with its famous motto Circumspice, afterwards displayed more 
worthily over the north door. He got little enough gratitude 
or honour from his own generation, his plans thwarted, scrimped, 
or marred, his salary at one time docked, and his enemies even 
went so far as to indict him for delaying the work in his own 
interest, a charge from which he was easily cleared. Under the 
Hanoverian Government, his post of Surveyor-General was taken 
away. But he lived to see the structure finished, and for a dozen 
years longer in retirement at Hampton Court, whence, till his 
death at the age of 91, he made an annual pilgrimage to his great 

In our aesthetic time much has been done to light up this great 
fabric by colour and gilding. The Chancel is now closed by an 
elaborate reredos of white marble, with sculptured panels and 


niches at which sound Protestants may shake their heads. Behind 
this the apse has been finely decorated as a Jesus Chapel in 
memory of Canon Liddon. The most discussed ornament is 
Sir W. B. Richmond's mosaic work of coloured glass, which glows 
so smoothly as seen from below that one might not guess what a 
rough surface it presents close at hand. Such a show of colour 
has been severely criticized as out of keeping ; but it seems that 
Wren had something of the kind in view, and other judges hope 
to see it extended from the domelets of the Choir till all the ceiling 
is thus enriched. A recent addition is a replica of Holman 
Hunt's Light of the World, hung on the south side of the nave 
in presence of the venerable painter, who unhappily could no 
longer see his own work. Older ornaments are Thornhill's dome- 
paintings of scenes in the life of St. Paul, and Grinling Gibbons' 
carvings in the Choir. So now St. Paul's presents a fair present- 
ment of the Anglican Church in its double character — at one 
end solid, spacious, rather cold, decked with hints of the world 
and the State ; at the other toned into harmony with a revival of 
Catholic forms of worship. Few visitors carry away such an 
unfavourable impression as Mr. W. D. Howells, to whom " St. 
Paul's always seemed a dispersed and interrupted St. Peter's in 
its structure and decoration, and a very hard, unsympathetic, 
unappealing Westminster Abbey in its mortuary records." But, 
indeed, the heroes her ecommemorated beneath ponderous 
Fames and Britannias, belong to an age that no longer appeals to 
the ancestral pride of Americans. 

The services also have been warmed and brightened for our 
generation, and now, at certain times of the day, there are as 
many worshippers as sight- seers, while Sunday and special festi- 
vals bring crowded congregations. Even sight-seers tread more 
reverently than half a century ago, when a charge of twopence 
was made at the dooro, and the vergers kept a sharp lookout for 
tips. Did the reader ever come across a curious little book called 
" John Wardle's Pilgrim's Progress from a Devonshire Valley to 
the Temples of the Metropolis," under the personage of a simple- 
minded and self-taught peasant preacher giving a slyly satirical 
aocount of regulations that should have moved Sydney Smith to 





ridicule ? There is still a table of money-changers, at which one 
pays sixpence for going down into the Crypt, and as much for 
ascending to the " Whispering Gallery " with its curious trick of 
acoustics, and on to the " Stone Gallery " on the roof. One may 
climb farther for a higher fee, into the Golden Gallery and even 
the Ball. But the Stone Gallery is high enough to give a broad 
view over Wren's thirty towers and steeples, rising above a sea of 
roofs, often strangely distorted in the struggle to add a new 
dimension to space round " streaming London's central roar." 
Ground is so precious here that St. Paul's Choir School has been 
fain to make its playground on a fenced-in roof, whereas the greater 
St. Paul's School, before removing to a roomier site in West 
Kensington, had to prendre ses ebats below the schoolrooms. 

Overshadowed among closely -packed warerooms lie the Deanery 
and the Canons' houses, that at night may enjoy congenial 
peace ; and the labyrinthine openings around bear names such 
as Ave Maria Lane, Amen Corner, Chapter-House Court, Creed 
Lane, to show how they belonged to sacred precincts. Doctors' 
Commons is no longer a place of much legal business, as in David 
Copperfield's day ; but couples are still licensed to be happy at 
Dean's Court ; and Godliman Street leads to the headquarters 
of heraldry, whose rites may still be taken seriously by their 
ministrants. Most famous of these purlieus is Paternoster Row, 
renowned seat of a power that in our time usurps that of the pulpit. 
This narrow street, though figuratively taken as a centre of the 
publishing trade, has much changed its character since Mr. 
Arthur Pendennis was here entertained by his publisher. Mr. 
Bacon comes to business from his residence at Kensington, and 
Mrs. Bungay drives out from her villa at Hampstead or Putney ; 
while the garrets of their authors are no longer in Grub Street, 
now dignified as Milton Street and occupied by more profitable 
crafts. In our time the large publishing firms have been moving 
their offices and warehouses to the West-end. But still some 
long-known names stick to the " Row," which is much occupied 
by religious bookshops of diverse doctrine, fostered under the 
shadow of the Cathedral. The oldest house here seems to be the 
Longmans', set up in the Row at the sign of the " Ship and the 



Black Swan " so far back as 1726, soon after which date it pub- 
lished a Chambers's Cyclopaedia, that took from its author a 
title afterwards transferred to the enterprise of a Scottish firm 
grafted in Paternoster Row. 

The twin printing and publishing trades were cradled by Caxton 
at Westminster ; but they soon betook themselves to the height 
of St. Paul's, where Stationers' Hall became their nursery. 
" True Paul's bred " is Ben Jonson's description of a bookseller ; 
and generations afterwards the Chapter coffee-house made an 
Exchange for publishers and authors. At one time the trade 
spread into Little Britain, so called from a residence here of the 
Dukes of Brittany, as Scotland Yard got its name from a lodging 
of Scottish kings on their visits to London. Still farther from 
St. Paul's was Cave's office, the scene of Johnson's servitude, 
occupying the rooms above St. John's Gate, near the Charter- 
house, a fragment of the old Priory of the Knights of St. John, 
now restored to possession of the modern brotherhood that has 
revived that name. It was only the other day that " Sylvanus 
Urban " dropped off from the survey of men and manners for 
which this old-world nook long made an observatory. 

From St. Paul's Churchyard, which now houses rather the 
drapery trade, let us turn aside as far as Little Britain, which 
seems still a " heart's core of the City," not altogether, indeed, 
so " ready to tumble down " as when an American amateur of 
antiquity drew it in his Sketch Book, and found it even then 
deserted by the booksellers. As we enter it from Aldersgate 
Street, we may note one quite modern feature : the churchyard 
of St. Botolph's has been laid out as a garden, nicknamed the 
Postmen's Park, where, under shadow of the G.P.O. buildings, 
a little arcade displays tablets recording deeds of contemporary 
heroism, placed here by G. F. Watts, whose own works adorn 
so many statelier galleries. This end of Little Britain is being 
rebuilt ; and as it curves round beside St. Bartholomew's 
Hospital, it shows little more picturesque than a grimy air of 
having seen better days, in memory of which the farther end 
reassumes the old name, after being disguised as Duke Street, 
that seems an enhancing of Duck Lane. But apparently Wash- 



ington Irving had also in view Cloth Fair, converging with Little 
Britain at St. Bartholomew's Church, at that time a nest of 
quaint old houses, once lordly family mansions, then fallen into 
decay about the " Old Red Cow " that has drawn beer for more 
than a dozen generations. In this narrow lane, with its narrower 
side-courts and alleys, American visitors who used to seek out 
the sort of house they cannot see at home are now a day behind 
Cloth Fair, as artistic sentiment no longer keeps such slums 
cumbering a valuable site. Bartholomew Close, on the other 
side of the Church, where Hogarth lived and Benjamin Franklin 
worked as a printer, is already half rebuilt. The fine archway 
opening from the Churchyard into Smithfield was lately marked 
for destruction; but has been rescued by a company of sub- 
scribers. As for the great Hospital opposite, that is bound to 
be rebuilt, picturesqueness and sanitary science being seldom on 
good terms. 

The early Virginian settlers gave the name of Smithfield to 
their first playground by the palisades at Jamestown, a hint of 
what it was to Londoners in their day. It seems hard to realize 
that this cramped opening of London was once a suburban nook, 
when the " Smooth Field " here had not the best of reputations 
as a swampy common outside the walls, such as we might now 
look for in the Hackney or Tottenham Marshes. Here were held 
races and horse fairs ; tournaments, too, that could be witnessed 
from London Wall, and infamous executions, as when Wallace 
was butchered to make a London holiday. Here Wat Tyler, or 
one of the rebels bearing that name, was stabbed by Lord Mayor 
Walworth, whose effigy stands not far off on Holborn Viaduct. 
The most illustrious victims of Smithfield were the Protestant 
martyrs, from Anne Askew onwards, a tale of nearly three hundred 
sufferers, among whom three are noted by name on a tablet let 
into the wall of the Hospital, close to where the stake is believed 
to have stood. Less noble Smithfield victims suffered in the 
pillory, a most barbarously unfair punishment, as depending for 
its severity on the temper of the mob, that sometimes cheered 
the criminal and sometimes pelted him to death, when officers 
of the law might be driven away from the scaffold in fear of their 


own lives. After public butcherings and roas tings had gone out 
of date, Smithfield's chief fame was for its cattle-markets, and for 
the annual orgies of Bartholomew Fair, not put down till 1855. 
In Washington Irving's time, he could tell us how still — 

The late quiet streets of Little Britain are overrun with an irruption 
of strange figures and faces ; every tavern is a scene of rout and revel. 
The fiddle and the song are heard from the tap-room, morning, noon, 
and night ; and at each window may be seen some group of boon 
companions, with half-shut eyes, hats on one side, pipe in mouth, 
and tankard in hand, fondling and prosing, and singing maudlin songs 
over their liquor. Even the sober decorum of private families, which 
I must say is rigidly kept up at other times among my neighbours, is 
no proof against this Saturnalia. There is no such thing as keeping 
maid-servants within doors. Their brains are absolutely set maddening 
with Punch and the Puppet Show ; the Flying Horses ; Signior Polito ; 
the Fire-Eater ; the celebrated Mr. Paap ; and the Irish Giant. The 
children, too, lavish all their holiday money in toys and gilt ginger- 
bread, and fill the house with the Lilliputian din of drums, trumpets, 
and penny whistles. 

Certain foreign writers have it that to this market John Bull 
could legally bring his wife for sale, a halter round her neck. 
But one sees no show of such chattels, now that Smithfield is 
swept and garnished, its centre laid out as a patch of garden, 
and its meat- trade housed under a row of spacious roofs at the 
north end, where a great congregation of vans keeps up the horsey 
connection of the place. With the stomach of a horse, one might 
get an appetite for dinner by walking through its galleries of still 
life, or descending to the catacombs of frozen carcasses under- 
ground. The liveliest sight here seems the rubicund and shining 
faces of the butcher boys, whose suety hair could not well stand 
on end at the apparition of that Spectre Pig famed by 
0. W. Holmes. Smithfield is in its glory under the patronage of 
Father Christmas, when his time-honoured rites demand such 
hecatombs of beasts and birds ; but " endless prospectives of 
sides, flitches, quarters, and whole carcasses, and fantastic vistas 
of sausages, blood-puddings, and the like artistic fashionings of 
the raw material," may on some of us have the effect of object 
lessons in vegetarianism. This market has at least a certain 



moral beauty of its own, as representing the organization of 
London's food-supply, and the modern municipal activity that 
swept away a chaos of small marts like that of Newgate, breeding 
vermin and infection under the old muddle of metropolitan 

The shrine of aesthetic pilgrims here is the Church of St. Bar- 
tholomew the Great, half blocked up by that " squalid knot of 
alleys " between Smithfield and Aldersgate. St. Bartholomew 
the Less stands within the adjacent Hospital, that also had for 
pious founder one Rahere, who lived so long ago as the reign of 
Henry L, and was minstrel, jester, or hanger-on about his Court. 
Little is known of his early life but that he gained favour with the 
King, and must somehow have come to be better off than is the 
lot of most minstrels and merry-makers. But good fortune did 
not harden his heart ; and the religion of the age sent him on its 
well-beaten course of a pilgrimage to Rome. There falling ill 
with fever, like so many another ancient and modern roamer 
in those parts, he had a vision of St. Bartholomew, to whom ho 
vowed the founding of a hospital as ransom for his life. His life 
was spared, and the price was paid in the Hospital that has since 
grown and thriven to be one of the richest of such institutions, 
Lord Mayor Whittington having been one of its many benefactors. 
Every London doctor, after putting his own school first, will 
own " Bart's " as the second metropolitan hospital, which, for 
all the well-earned increment of its wealth, is now fain to ask 
further aid from our generation. 

Habere was better than his vow, for, at anotner prompting 
from the Saint, beside the Hospital he set up a Priory, of which 
— apart from the lately restored Canonbury Tower, that near 
Islington made a country retreat for the Canons, and the park 
bearing their name at Edgware — nothing remains but the eastern 
half of the monastery church. This became a parish church, 
spared by the Great Fire, to be so scurvily treated in our white- 
wash period of religion, that its Lady Chapel was turned into a 
factory, and one of the transepts served as a smithy. About 
half a century ago the work of redressing such wrongs was 
seriously begun, parts of the church being bought back to sacred 


use, its sides cleared from darkening obstructions, and the whole 
fabric, except the lost nave, restored with a reverent eye upon 
its early fifteenth-century structure, for then it had been almost 
rebuilt. There is still room for restoration ; but this rescued 
fane, with its ancient monuments and sumptuous tombs of 
Rahere and of Mildmay, founder of Emmanuel College, makes 
" the noblest medieval monument left to London," haunted by 
artists as well as sight-seers. 

An offshoot of St. Bartholomew's, as founded by the first 
master of Rahere 's Hospital, was St. Giles, Cripplegate, on the 
farther side of Aldersgate, where it will be found at the junction 
of Jewin Street, Fore Street, and Red Cross Street, overshadowed 
by blocks of trim warehouses rebuilt ten years ago after a con- 
flagration from which St. Giles escaped more narrowly than from 
the Great Fire of 1666. This Church also stood without the 
Wall, a considerable fragment of which comes to view in its 
Churchyard. Its chief fame is as the parish church of Milton, 
whose statue has recently been erected outside. His bust within 
recalls that he was buried here, along with Foxe the martyrolo- 
gist and Frobisher the Arctic voyager ; and here Oliver Crom- 
well was married. Such a shrine does not lack pilgrims, well 
worth seeing for itself and for its memorials, among them a quaint 
one to the daughter of Sir T. Lucy of Charlecote, that brings 
Shakespearian associations in touch with the tomb of Milton. 

Bunhill Fields, not far away on the City Road, made a noted 
burying-ground of Dissenters, where lie Bunyan, Isaac Watts, 
Defoe, and the mother of the Wesleys, John Wesley himself 
being buried at his chapel, close at hand, and George Fox either 
in the Bunhill cemetery or beside the Friends' meeting-house in 
Roscoe Street. But these Nonconformist shrines may seem too 
far a digression from the Cathedral round which we are wandering. 
So along the Barbican let us seek Aldersgate Station, whence 
Long Lane leads us shortly and straightly back into Smithfield. 

Behind the meat-markets is soon found the pleasant opening 
of Charterhouse Square, where the building that first strikes 
the eye is a smart modern hotel. Beyond this an archway 
gives entrance to what Besant declares " the most beautiful and 


most venerable monument of old London," the Charterhouse or 
Carthusian monastery, built by Sir Walter Manny upon a burial- 
ground of victims to the Black Death. After the Dissolution, 
the property passed to less austere owners, and was finally 
bought by Thomas Sutton, a rich and benevolent merchant, 
who in James's reign turned it into an almshouse for eighty old 
men linked with a school for forty boys. The Almshouse is 
famous as that where Colonel Newcome said Adsum for the 
last time ; and many broken-down authors have found sanctuary 
from misfortune or improvidence in this noble refuge, with its 
time-mellowed courts, its great Hall and ancient Chapel contain- 
ing Sutton's tomb, shown to strangers on application at the 
porter's lodge. A little farther on one gets through the gate 
a peep into the green playground of Thackeray's old school, 
affectionately remembered by his contemporaries as " Smiffle," 
though its discipline then seems to have been of the roughest, 
and though its most celebrated modern scholar might have said 
of his school-days, " I learne song ; I know but small grammere." 
But the boys playing here to-day are no longer the sons of 
Thackeray's alma mater. The schoolrooms were acquired by 
another old City school, that of the Merchant Taylors' Company, 
when the Charterhouse transferred itself with some of its more 
portable monuments to a height above Godalming. There it 
thrives afresh in more airy scenes, cherishing its memories of 
Addison, Steele, and Wesley, with its relics of later pupils like 
John Leech ; and its latest hero is General Baden-Powell, who all 
over the country has raised such a miniature army of boy- scouts. 
Across Smithfield, we reach the site of another renowned 
toundation, the Blue-coat Hospital, that has also swarmed into 
the country, and its yellow-legged bees, now hived near Horsham, 
are no longer so familiar dots of colour in the London streets. 
This, too, was housed in a monastery, the old Grey Friars, which 
Edward VI. gets the credit of turning into a charity school ; 
but he seems to have done little more than hand over the build- 
ings robbed from the Church, to be equipped and endowed by 
benevolent citizens. Such a home for foundlings, as it was at 
first, grew to be no common school, rearing a long line of illus- 


trioufl scholars, three of whom, Coleridge, Charles Lamb, and 
Leigh Hunt, helped to make it famous by their reminiscences. 

Another account of Blue-coat school life, less well known, 
deserves to be better known, in the Wayside Thoughts of Professor 
D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, once a master at my own school, 
where his initials tempted us to nickname him " Pennyweight." 
This wise and witty book is really a plea for educational reform, 
but makes an oasis among the rather dry writings commonly 
devoted to that subject. The second chapter deals with the 
author's boyhood, from the day that, in a coachful of other 
seven-year- olds, he was sent off to the Hertford nursery of the 
school, " all weeping — going, as it were, to the funeral of our 
respective childhoods." With dismay the neophyte found 
himself " encased in an imitation horse-hair shirt, yellow worsted 
stockings, fustian knee-breeches, a yellow hearthrug petticoat, 
and a long blue gown ; a red leathern girdle went round my waist ; 
a pair of parson's bibs hung down from my neck, and my hair 
was cut so short that I think I might have been used, with a little 
inconvenience to the user and myself, as a hair-brush. I cannot 
say what my poor dear Mother thought of the grotesque-looking 
article before her. She was bewildered in the midst of her 
sorrow. I think she looked upon me as a ridiculously small 
parody upon John the Baptist, bound for years of sojourning in 
the wilderness and of feeding there on locusts and wild honey." 
In France I have known a Blue-coat boy's mother condoled 
with on her son's precocious monkhood. Sydney Smith's humour 
threw out a mock theory identifying the Blue-coat as the larva 
of the Quaker. " At a very early age young Quakers disappear ; 
at a very early age the Coat-boys are seen ; at the age of seventeen 
or eighteen young Quakers are again seen ; at the same age 
the Coat-boys disappear . . . Dissection would throw great light 
on the question. ... I have ascertained that the Blue-coat 
infants are fed with drab - coloured pap, which looks very 

D'Arcy Thompson is quite sure that he was fed at school 
mostly on mere locusts of grammar and parsing, and that only 
in the upper forms did he taste the honey of what long seemed 






an educational wilderness. There is an earnest purpose in his 
humorous retrospect of ill-managed classes, of wasted school- 
hours, of dreary Sundays, of tyrants and bullies, of hardy games 
and severe discipline. Among his experiences was that of a 
mutiny, a Comus rout soon quelled by waving of the head- 
master's wand, who threatened to flog a dozen of his rebels if they 
did not go into school, and when they did go, flogged three dozen 
of them. " One very knowing beadle had mingled with the 
noisy crowd, pretending great enjoyment of the fun ; but un- 
observedly he had put a little chalk mark on the coats of the 
most obstreperous ; and the owner of every coat so chalked was 
now singled out for execution." It was a rough-and-tumble 
life, that sometimes crushed weak spirits. 

When I look back upon the condition of the school in these years, 
I seem to have before me a picture in little of old medieval and older 
heroic days. In the Hellenists I see the studious and exclusive 
searchers after a Latin-and-Greek philosopher's stone. In the Brassers 
(bullies) I recognize the Barons of the middle ages, who had all the 
halfpence going in their days ; and in the little ones I see the burghers 
who paid the piper, the retainers who did the dirtier work, and the 
general rabble who came in for the kicks and cumngs. How I should 
like a return of the old feudal times, if I were only sure of being a baron ! 
How I should like to fight round windy Troy, if I were only the son of 
a goddess, and could scurry the poor Trojan fellows like locusts into 
the river, without one of them having a chance of grazing my royal 
and semi-celestial shins ! How splendid it must have been for a great 
chieftain, gifted specially of Heaven with superhuman shoulders, 
indefatigable hips, and an impenetrable hide, mounted on a light car 
drawn by divine steeds, his sword upon his thigh, his shining shield 
in front, and a great tree of a lance in his terrible hand, to rush career- 
ing in among a crowd of leather-clad trembling louts, and prog and 
pierce and skewer and stab and slash until at length he ceased from 
very exhaustion, and doffed his helm, and with the fringe of what 
may be called his frock-coat wiped the sweat from off his steaming 
forehead in the middle of a great slaughter-house of groans and glory ! 

I know a schoolfellow of this satirist, who cannot name him 
without solemn reprobation. " He has reviled his old Hospital !" 
But all D'Arcy Thompson did was to point out how the resources 
of a magnificent institution wero squandered by clumsy routine, 



and his half-serious resentment shows kindly feeling, too, for a 
school where his time could not have been all wasted. That 
is the way with all the Blue-coats ; beaten, bullied, and half- 
starved mentally and bodily, as they might be, they seldom are 
found failing in loyalty to a scene of mingled memories. Coleridge 
expressed gratitude that he had been flogged, "wisely as I 
think, soundly as I know." Leigh Hunt wept bitterly on leaving 
the stony cloisters. Charles Lamb, though in one of his tw 
accounts his humour is to be critical, kept always a soft heart 
for that " play-place of our early days." And if thin-skinned 
authors let old sores heal so kindly, it can be imagined how the 
average stolid Johnny Bull cherishes a bigoted affection for the 
spot where he learned, if little more, to suffer in silence, whose 
customs, rude survivals, and its very abuses seem worthy of 
veneration in our " dear conservative, wilful, pigheaded old 

No doubt the school is better managed in its new quarters, 
where still it clings to the quaint costume of Tudor days ; nor 
do its scholars omit their annual visit to the Lord Mayor, to 
receive an all-round tip, ranging from a guinea to a shilling. 
Their old home is now being transformed by the new buildings 
of the Post-Office, behind which part of the site will be over- 
spread by St. Bartholomew's Hospital. In the course of this 
clearing there has been unearthed a bastion of the Roman wall, 
that for centuries lay unsuspected beneath the feet of those young 
Latiners. Christ Church still stands, whose huge gallery served 
as chapel for the school ; but even Londoners will soon forget the 
lively cloister into which they till lately could peep through the 
Newgate Street railings ; and strangers must be content with 
such a description as Leigh Hunt's : 

Christ Hospital (for this is its proper name, and not Christ's Hospital) 
occupies a considerable portion of ground between Newgate Street, 
Giltspur Street, St. Bartholomew's, and Little Britain. There is a 
quadrangle with cloisters ; and the square inside the cloisters is called 
the Garden, and most likely was the monastery garden. Its only 
delicious crop, for many years, has been pavement. Another large 
area, presenting the Grammar and Navigation Schools, is also mis- 


nomered the Ditch ; the town-ditch having formerly run that way. 
In Newgate Street is seen the Hall, or eating-room, one of the noblest 
in England, adorned with enormously long paintings by Verrio and 
others, and with an organ. A portion of the old quadrangle once 
contained the library of the monks, and was built or repaired by the 
famous Whittington, whose arms were to be seen outside ; but altera- 
tions of late years have done it away. In the cloisters a number of 
persons lie buried, besides the officers of the house. Among them is 
Isabella, wife of Edward the Second, the " She-wolf of France." I 
was not aware of this circumstance then ; but many a time, with a 
recollection of some lines in " Blair's Grave " upon me, have I run as 
hard as I could at night-time from my ward to another, in order to 
borrow the next volume of some ghostly romance. In one of the 
cloisters was an impression resembling a gigantic foot, which was 
attributed by some to the angry stamping of the ghost of a beadle's wife ! 

D'Arcy Thompson, too, has hints of juvenile superstitions 
that grew rank within those old walls. In his day, and oftener 
in Hunt's, the boys might still shudder to hear the tolling of 
St. Sepulchre's bell, close at hand. This church, in which 
doughty John Smith of Virginia lies buried, had the office of 
ringing a knell for criminals hanged at Newgate, its gloomy walls 
separated by little more than a street's breadth from that barrack 
of hearty boyhood, where, on nights before an execution, ears 
were strained to catch the hammering at the scaffold, and bold 
truants sometimes contrived to slip out for a peep at the gruesome 
spectacle. How often did the bellman of St. Sepulchre have to 
recite his doggerel homily below barred windows 

All you that in the condemned hold do lie, 
Prepare you, for to-morrow you must die ! 

Round the corner of Newgate Street, we turn down by the 
Old Bailey, where a few years ago Newgate came to be rebuilt 
in more cheerful style, crowned by a statue of Justice, not so 
blind or befogged as she once showed herself here. This is still 
the Central Criminal Court, but no longer a place of imprisonment 
and punishment, of torment rather, in which felons and debtors 
were herded together, innocent men among the guilty, some even 
acquitted of all offence but poverty, yet detained for a grasp- 
ing gaoler's fees. We have many pictures of old Newgate, 


where authors, and publishers too, often pined for libel, if not for 
debt. Laudators of good old times must find it hard to excuse 
the stupid heartlessness of our forefathers, before Howard began 
t lie work of prison reform, when hundreds of wretches were pent 
up so foully that their executioner was often the " gaol fever " 
with which judges, jurymen, lawyers, and witness might be 
infected while putting the rope round the neck of victims who 
now would get off with a few weeks' imprisonment. It takes all 
the aromatic herbs and pungent essences of romantic sentiment 
to sweeten the law's sickening cruelties in the past. 

The sternest function of Justice was till lately carried out 
here, when the bell of St. Sepulchre's boomed in the ear of one 

Who shall hear the stroke of eight, 
But not the stroke of nine — 

and the hoisting of a black flag proclaimed that a murderer had 
been done to death with impressive secrecy. But living men 
still remember how the Old Bailey was the theatre of public 
hangings, to fill it with a crowd of sight-seers and seekers after 
morbid excitement. 

There are many accounts of that ghastly spectacle, from 
different points of view, for one that of Ingoldsby's Lord Tom 
Noddy, who fell asleep after sitting up all night. J. T. Smith, 
in his Book for a Rainy Day, tells how he was admitted into 
Newgate to see Governor Wall pinioned and led trembling to 
the gallows amid the execrations of the very felons ; and how, 
on coming out, he found one of the officials already selling off 
the fatal rope at a shilling an inch. This case shows our law at 
least no respecter of persons. Joseph Wall, an Irish officer, 
was governor of Goree in Senegal, where he had a sergeant 
flogged to death by the hands of black slaves, as seemed to some 
the most atrocious feature of the case. Harsh as was the 
military discipline of the day, this act of drunken brutality 
roused vengeful indignation. Taking refuge on the Continent, 
Wall eluded Nemesis for twenty years ; then, in 1801, when he 
hoped the feeling against him might have died down, he sur- 
rendered to take his trial. Convicted and sentenced to death, 


he had strong influence brought to bear on his behalf ; but the 
Government durst not gainsay the popular verdict, and he was 
hanged before an exulting mob. Forty years later, Thackeray 
attended the execution of another famous criminal, Courvoisier, 
the Swiss valet who murdered his master, Lord William Eussell ; 
then the novelist's spectacles of playful cynicism were dimmed 
by an emotion that did not let him look to the end. 

As the clock began to strike, an immense sway and movement swept 
over the whole of that vast dense crowd. They were all uncovered 
directly, and a great murmur arose, more awful, bizarre, and inde- 
scribable than any sound I had ever before heard. Women and 
children began to shriek horridly. I don't know whether it was the 
bell I heard ; but a dreadful, quick, feverish kind of jangling noise 
mingled with the noise of the people, and lasted for about tAvo minutes. 
The scaffold stood before us, tenantless and black, the black chain 
was hanging down ready from the beam. Nobody came. " He has 
been respited," someone said ; another said, " He has killed himself 
in prison." Just then, from under the black prison-door, a pale, 
quiet head peered out. It was shockingly bright and distinct ; it 
rose up directly, and a man in black appeared on the scaffold, and was 
silently followed by about four more dark figures. The first was a 
tall, grave man ; we all knew who the second man was. " That's he — 
that's he /" you heard the people say, as the devoted man came up. 
I have seen a cast of the head since, but, indeed, should never have 
known it. Courvoisier bore his punishment like a man, and walked 
very firmly. He was dressed in a new black suit, as it seemed : his 
shirt was opened. His arms were tied in front of him. He opened his 
hands in a helpless kind of way, and clasped them once or twice 
together. He turned his head here and there, and looked about him 
for an instant with a wild imploring look. His mouth was contracted 
into a sort of pitiful smile. He went and placed himself at once under 
the beam, with his face towards St. Sepulchre's. The tall, grave 
man in black twisted him round swiftly in the other direction, and, 
drawing from his pocket a night-cap, pulled it tight over the patient's 
head and face. I am not ashamed to say that I could look no more, 
but shut my eyes as the last dreadful act was going on, which sent this 
wretched, guilty soul into the presence of God. 

Dickens, in his more tub-thumping manner, preached on the 
same text in a letter to the Times in 1849, written while he still 
shuddered from the sight of such a popular spectacle ; this letter 


is sometimes, though erroneously, quoted as having rung the 
knell of public execution. 

When I came upon the scene at midnight, the shrillness of the 
cries and howls that were raised from time to time, denoting that they 
came from a concourse of boys and girls assembled in the best places, 
made my blood run cold. As the night went on, screeching and 
laughing, and yelling in strong chorus of parodies on negro melodies, 
with substitutions of " Mrs. Manning " for " Susannah," and the like, 
wore added to these. When the day dawned, thieves, low prostitutes, 
ruffians, and vagabonds of every kind, flocked on to the ground, with 
every variety of offensive and foul behaviour. Fightings, faintings, 
whistlings, imitations of Punch, brutal jokes, tumultuous demonstra- 
tions of indecent delight, when swooning women were dragged out of 
the crowd by the police with their dresses disordered, gave a new 
zest to the general entertainment. When the sun rose brightly — 
as it did — it gilded thousands upon thousands of upturned faces, so 
inexpressibly odious in their brutal mirth or callousness that a man 
had cause to feel ashamed of the shape he wore, and to shrink from 
himself, as fashioned in the image of the Devil. ... I am solemnly 
convinced that nothing that ingenuity could devise to be done in this 
city, in the same compass of time, could work such ruin as one public 
execution ; and I stand astounded and appalled by the wickedness it 

The hanging that called forth this burst of indignation was 
at Horsemonger Lane Gaol in Surrey ; but Dickens was well 
acquainted with Newgate, as readers of Barnaby Budge do not 
need to be reminded. The gaol burned by the Gordon rioters 
was replaced by the one described in Sketches by Boz, who there 
saw more than a score of men under formal sentence of death, 
among them a boy below fourteen, not that on all of these would 
the extreme penalty be carried out. Nobody in his day did more 
than Dickens to rebuke the absurdities and brutalities of " old 
father antic the law." By that day considerate parents and 
teachers no longer sent young folks to witness an execution as 
an edifying example ; but to be inveterately familiar with the 
gallows was so much John Bull's humour, that not till 1868 was 
an end put to such demoralizing spectacles. Since then I note 
how an Italian observer of our manners reports that hanging and 
flogging are done every Monday at Newgate, " and no dog barks." 


As a matter of fact, a murderer is now hanged at the gaol in 
which he awaits his trial. When Newgate prison came to be 
demolished, a gruesome question arose what to do with the bones 
or half-decomposed remains of the latest stratum of criminals 
buried here. Some were for cementing up these dishonoured 
graves and leaving their occupants to rot in peace, like better 
men. Sanitarians suggested cremation to finish the work 
imperfectly done by quicklime. Finally it was decided to give 
the bodies fresh burial in the City cemetery at Ilford. 

Close to Newgate, almost under the shadow of the Cathedral, 
where now the Congregational Memorial Hall dignifies Farringdon 
Street, stood another prison of ill-fame, that, also wrecked by 
the Gordon rioters, was rebuilt to be a scene in Mr. Pickwick's 
adventures, after housing many a more woeful wight ; but the 
railway epoch made a good riddance of it. This was the Fleet, 
so called from a little river rising on Hampstead Heath, to flow 
into the Thames at Blackfriars. Not fully covered over till half 
a century ago, this once purling stream had long for part of its 
course become a noisome ditch, opening out at the Hollow Bourne 
into a canalized tidal estuary on which barges rode up to Holborn 
in the middle of the eighteenth century, if we may trust a picture 
of that day at the Guildhall. In the Dunciad we learn how its 
stream was not fit for bathing ; and quite unquotable to ears 
polite is Ben Jonson's description of a voyage through the filth 
of the Fleet Bitch, on whose banks more than one prison raked 
in human dregs and offal. 

The Fleet Prison was specially for debtors, whose lot might 
be so harsh that there was at least one case of a prisoner qualify- 
ing as a felon to exchange it for transportation. Here were 
huddled a swarm of bankrupts, ne'er-do-wells, and other unfor- 
tunates, sometimes mere victims of the law's stupidity or of 
pettifogging knavery. Their alleged offence being to have no 
money, they were given over to the exactions of official harpies 
licensed to demand fees, perquisites, and bribes from men whose 
means of livelihood were cut off by the bars that often closed on 
them for life. Some were able to carry on trades and handicrafts 
in prison, and thus to support families, else left destitute out- 


side, but sometimes able to pig together with their breadwinner, 
the innocent gaol-birds going in and out on errands. The Fleet 
was once found turned into a smuggler's store under the nose of 
dishonest turnkeys. The greatest rascals of all, those who could 
pay their debts and would not for one or other reason, might be 
better off, for, as Mr. Pickwick soon learned, " money was, in the 
Fleet, just what money was out of it." Private rooms and other 
luxuries could be had at exorbitant rates by guests for whom, as 
Besant puts it, the Fleet was no worse than " a very expensive 
and most uncomfortable hotel." Some lively spirits seem even 
to have enjoyed the squalid clubbability of the place, in which 
they could play the games that perhaps had brought them to 
ruin outside. Most to be pitied were the penniless prisoners on 
" the poor side," who had to eke out a scanty allowance by charity, 
taking turns to exhibit themselves in an iron cage to the com- 
passion of passers-by, in whose ears they rattled a begging-box. 
" Pity the poor prisoners !" was a familiar cry in days when 
legacies were left to plaster the galling sores rubbed by Christian 
law, and collections came to be made for ransoming captives to 
the cruel Turk, their lot not always less endurable than that of 
prisoners at home, as described before Mr. Pickwick's day in 
Amelia and The Vicar of Wakefield, or afterwards, with sympa- 
thetic retrospection, by Besant. Perhaps our latest authentic 
glimpse into the Fleet is through the eyes of Mr. Arthur Pendennis, 
who was also not ignorant of its waiting-rooms in Cursitor Street, 
where Jewish bailiffs had their gloomy dens. 

Pen had never seen this scene of London life, and walked adth no 
small interest in at the grim gate of that dismal edifice. They went 
through the anteroom, where the officers and janitors of the place 
were seated, and passing in at the wicket, entered the prison. The 
noise and the crowd, the life and the shouting, the shabby bustle of 
the place struck and excited Pen. People moved about ceaselessly 
and restless, like caged animals in a menagerie. Men were playing at 
fives. Others pacing and tramping : this one in colloquy with his 
lawyer in dingy black — that one walking sadly, with his wife by his 
side, and a child on his arm. Some were arrayed in tattered dressing- 
gowns, and had a look of rakish fashion. Everybody seemed to be 
busy, humming, and on the move. Pen felt as if he choked in the 


jf i 


place, and as if the door being locked upon him they never would let 
him out. They went through a court up a stone staircase, and through 
passages full of people, and noise, and cross lights, and black doors 
clapping and banging. 

Certain prisoners, moyennant finance, got leave to live outside, 
within the " Rules " of the Fleet, a narrow space bounded by 
Ludgate Hill, the Old Bailey, Fleet Lane, and the line of the 
stream. In this disreputable sanctuary, at one time, out-at- 
elbows parsons could pick up fees by performing summary 
marriages, as told in Besant's Chaplain of the Fleet. Originally 
the Fleet marriages took place in the prison chapel, at the rate 
of thousands a year. The Church law had then no hold on those 
unbeneficed officiants ; and after their trade was threatened by 
legal enactment against marrying in chapels without banns, 
they set up altars in their own houses or in the Fleet taverns, 
sending out touts to fetch in might-be happy couples. A special 
Act of the middle of the eighteenth century was needed to 
repress this scandal, for which other places besides the Fleet 
were notorious, Sion Chapel at Hampstead, for instance, and 
that of Mayfair. 

Was it for want of room within prison walls that their boun- 
daries were extended by " Rules " ? If so, no small part of 
London's population must have been in confinement, when the 
rest of the nation was " Merry England." The gates of a city 
seem to have been much used as prisons, their connection with 
justice being as old as Biblical " sittings in the gate." Within 
a stone's-throw of the Fleet, before London's gates were pulled 
down, Ludgate had tacked on to it a debtors' prison for City 
freemen, improved, according to tradition, by a Lord Mayor 
of Henry VI. 's reign, who had been himself a prisoner there, 
but when taking his turn " to angle into Blackfriars for brass 
farthings," this beggar so won the heart of a rich widow, that 
she set him free, and opened his way to fortune as her husband. 
That cage of confinement was succeeded by various " compters " 
and " clinks," replaced in time by the City prison of Clerkenwell, 
now deodorized as the Parcel Post-Office. Then there were several 
prisons on the Southwark side, the King's Bench the largest and 



most celebrated of them, to which, if tales be true, a Prince of 
Wales was once committed by his father's Chief Justice. Besides 
all that public accommodation, there were the bailiffs' " sponging 
houses," detention in which might make the first stage in a rake's 
downward progress, when Colonel Crawley was liable to be tapped 
on the shoulder as he left a West-end banquet, and Count 
D'Orsay, in real life, could not appear at his club till after mid- 
ight on Saturday, Sunday being a truce of the law. 

Another old prison, near Ludgate, which has not wholly lost 
its rusty office, became so renowned that its name made a generic 
one for a house of correction. This was Bridewell, once a royal 
palace on the left bank of the Fleet, given by Edward VI., to 
be a hospital for the clients of the dissolved monasteries and a 
workhouse for sturdy rogues. After the Fire, it took the form 
of an institution with miscellaneous purposes, among which came 
to the front that of punishment, when one of the sights of the 
town was to see unfortunate women whipped here, screaming 
" Knock, good Sir Robert, knock !" to the presiding Alderman 
whose hammer would cut short the tale of stripes. One of 
Hogarth's illustrations of " The Harlot's Progress " shows ne'er- 
do-wells, chiefly women, beating hemp at Bridewell under the 
cane of a keeper, as described also by Pennant : " About twenty 
young creatures, the eldest not exceeding sixteen, many of them 
with angelic faces, divested of every angelic expression, and 
featured with impudence, impenitency and profligacy, and 
clothed in the silken tatters of squalid finery." But Bridewell, 
besides a doling of charity, did more wholesome work in training 
lads to trades and setting them out in life, an undertaking that 
developed into something like a technical school, still on foot ; 
while at Witley, in Surrey, the foundation has a large boarding;- 

Very untoward Blue-coat boys, it appears, might be threatened 
with being sent to the old Bridewell to be disciplined or taught 
trades. Its connection with apprenticeship is still shown by 
the fact, not known to every Londoner, that the City Chamberlain 
can commit apprentices within his jurisdiction to Bridewell, 
after a quite paternal and medieval manner. This power is 
now very rarely exercised ; but the modern building, which serves 


mainly as offices of charities administered by the institution, 
has also dungeons for unruly youth such as a century ago were 
sent here to have the offending Adam whipped out of them. The 
late Rev. E. C. Hawkins, Chaplain of Bridewell, told me, not so 
many years ago, of its being part of his duty to visit those young 
prisoners with ghostly counsel, which I am sure took a kindly 
form. " It generally meant a row with the foreman," was his 
account of their offence. 

Nowadays, to be sure, the City has not many apprentices to 
imprison ; and those are of more orderly behaviour than the Jin 
Vins and Frank Tunstalls, so impudent and turbulent in Fleet 
Street when Richie Moniplies exposed himself to their raillery. 
The 'prentices of that day, " both proper and tall," made an 
estate of the City's realm by no means modest in their pretensions, 
heard and seen not only as shouting " What d'ye lack ?" to 
passers-by, but, on occasion, by raising the cry of " Clubs ! 
Clubs !" and throwing down their yard-wands or what not, to 
swell riots that often became serious. In Gay's time he has to 
tell of 'prentices that their idea of a good joke was to direct 
inquiring strangers the wrong way, and that they would rush out 
of their shops to join a mob of street football players. As for 
Chaucer's 'prentice, " Brown as a berry, a proper short fellow " — 

At every bridal would he sing and hop, 
He better loved the tavern than the shop ; 
For when there any riding was in Cheap, 
Out of the shoppe thither would he leap, 
And till that he had all the sight y-seen 
And danced well, he would not come again. 

We know how there were industrious as well as idle and belli- 
cose apprentices. Those pages of commerce, gentle or simple 
by birth, were as much part of their master's household as his 
squires of a belted knight's ; and their servitude was then the 
honourable initiation to a chosen trade, when the privileges 
of a freeman were well worth acquiring. But nowadays a 
draper's or bookseller's apprentices are not too proud of the 
name or status, while in most crafts carried on in London, 
apprenticeship, more's the pity, has been dying out through 
various causes. The masters who will trouble themselves with 


the charge of tyros are apt not to be the best teachers of their 
trade ; the men's trades unions selfishly seek to restrict their 
numbers ; short-sighted parents want to exploit the labour of 
their sons to their own profit, as soon as possible ; and the young- 
sters themselves have too little mind for a steady course of training, 
as to which their wishes were not so much consulted in sterner 
generations. One is glad to see that efforts are now being made 
to restore apprenticeship ; but it remains to be seen if such efforts 
will be successful in present conditions of industry, when in so 
many trades intelligent craftsmanship goes to pieces through 
the division of mechanical labour. 

In this part of London, apprentices chiefly belong to the 
printing trade, beginning their career as the " devils," who, 
exorcised by ministers of the post, do not so often appear to idle 
authors in the flesh. For here we are in Newspaper land, 
stretching from Ludgate to Charing Cross, the " Ear of England," 
as it has been called by a Fleet Street bard. What might be 
'called its headquarters, Printing-House Square, lies behind 
Ludgate Hill Station, where a labyrinth of lanes and cramped 
openings, mocked by such names as " Square " and " Broadway," 
seems to bear out the tradition that here was the maze in which 
Henry II. guarded his fair Rosamond under the walls of Baynard 
Castle. The bookselling business that once spread along Fleet 
Street, and about Chancery Lane is still rooted in its legal branch, 
has now been overshadowed by the forcing houses of ephemeral 
publications, some of which, indeed, blossom out not daily but 
hourly, turning the wood-pulp of Canadian forests into latest 
editions. Every second house here displays the name of some 
familiar organ of opinion, from the New York Herald to Punch. 
Lords and ladies are not so much in evidence in Fleet Street as 
when Defoe's Complete Tradesman drew customers from the 
West-end ; but any commonplace gentleman we meet hurrying 
along the pavement may be some resounding " We," some anony- 
mous potentate of the Fourth Estate that speaks so loudly in 
all matters of Church and State. The army of the press wears 
no uniform ; and we must guess to what rank and corps belongs 
each aspirant to the blue pencil that is an editor's baton, whether 
light reporter, heavy-armed leader writer, dashing paragraphist 



irregular correspondent, or the advertisement-canvasser who 
makes not the least important arm of the service. 

The army, indeed, seems not the best simile for that modern 
order, that needs no Paul's Cross restored to preach urbi et orbi. 
" The journalists are now the true kings and clergy," exclaims 
one British sage ; and is echoed from the other side of the Atlantic 
— " See what a pulpit the editor mounts daily, sometimes with a 
congregation of fifty thousand within reach of his voice, and 
never so much as a nodder, even, among them ! And from what 
a Bible can he choose his text — a Bible which needs no translation, 
and which no priestcraft can shut and clasp from the laity — 
the open volume of the world, upon which, with a pen of sunshine 
or destroying fire, the inspired present is even now writing the 
annals of God ! Methinks the editor, who should understand 
his calling, and be equal thereto, would truly deserve that title 
of iroi^riv \au)i> which Homer bestows on princes." Alas ! there 
is many a hireling shepherd who " takes up the crook, not 
that the sheep may be fed, but that he may never want a warm 
woollen suit and a joint of mutton." Every Church, from time 
to time, stands in need of reformation, when it holds its mission 
to be growing fat on the folly and credulity of hearers to whom 
it grants indulgence for sins that help the collection. We want 
a Latimer to rebuke some of our editors, who, with their tongues 
in their cheeks, seem to shear very silly sheep, " swollen with 
mist and the rank wind they draw " upon journalistic pastures. 
There was a time when the British press had political bigotry as 
its one besetting sin, but now — Oh Tempora I — it too plainly 
shows a yellow taint spreading from more corrupted sheets in 
another hemisphere. We no longer can tell whether its para- 
graphs are honest facts or lying advertisements. Its own 
placards appeal in the largest letters to our folly and idle curiosity ; 
and more and more its columns pander to the tastes of those 
who have quickly learned to read, but not to know what is worth 

There never was a time when journalists were so ready to 
preach, to abound in fine sentiments, to profess loyalty to the 
common weal. Yet when they undertake to rebuke the short- 
comings of their age, might not their disciples turn upon them 


with some such reproach as is put into their mouths by a certain 

We have been nourished in this unreal world of impudence, non- 
sense, vicarious sport, and gambling. We began with our boys' 
papers and guessing competitions. We were insensibly led on to 
efforts after a pound a week for life by estimating the money in the 
Bank of England on a certain day, or amassing gain in hundreds 
of pounds by guessing missing words or the last line of " Limericks." 
On the Sabbath, committed by our parents to some such literature 
as the Sunday Syndicated Press, we found there the same cheery game, 
smeared with a grease of piety ; rewards and prizes here for guessing 
anagrams on Bible cities, or acrostics representing Kings and Queens 
of Israel. We were led on to talk and read and chatter about " sport," 
in biography of various football heroes, in descriptive reports of foot- 
ball matches, ever deepening in imbecility, until they rivalled the 
language of the lunatic asylum ; stuff that uses its own phraseology, 
about " netting the muddied orange " and tne " ubiquitous spheroid," 
and "impelling the pill between the uprights." Our thoughts and 
growing interest were sedulously directed away from consideration 
of any rational or serious universe. We were exhorted to demonstrate 
patriotism by " mafficking," and informed that when we fell into the 
fountain at Trafalgar Square and subsequently embraced a policeman, 
we were performing a virtuous action. Then we are denounced because 
this universe of foolishness and frivolity has rendered us utterly unfit 
to face real things. (C. F. G. Masterman's Condition of England, 1909). 

I quote these words, not daring to say so much in my own 
person, for fear of newspaper critics. Yet in their hearts the 
better sort of critics may agree in questioning whether readers 
so schooled are likely to judge wisely of controversies that 
divide the most thoughtful economists and the most experienced 
statesmen. On the popular decision in such controversies may 
soon depend the prosperity or the ruin of Britain, as we are daily 
reminded through the discordant megaphones of Fleet Street. 
Let us hope for the best, without asking which is the nettle and 
which the dock that have their root side by side in this famous 
thoroughfare, both plants, it appears, being sometimes cultivated 
by the same farmer of public opinion. 

Each of the narrow and dingy openings here, swarms like a 
beehive entrance with the myrmidons of that industry that all 
day long gathers the honey of fact and fiction to spread upon its 


countless sheets, not supplied fast enough to stay the hunger 
of its customers, when now and then they block up the pave- 
ments in crowds pressing to read telegrams displayed in some 
newspaper window. Small thought have those busy bees of 
Johnson or Goldsmith, of Lamb or Thackeray, who once lived 
in cramped courts and alleys now echping with the clank of 
presses reprinting quotations from and allusions to their works. 
If we were to revisit their haunts by moonlight, we should still 
find it hard to call up ghostly memories, for the din of this 
machinery is at its noisiest through the night, nor is the street 
clear from its operatives, seeking their homes so late that one 
suburb affected by pressmen is served by special trains in the 
small hours. And no sooner is the haste of production stilled, 
than begins the rattle and clamour of distribution to all ends 
of the kingdom. The early bustle breaks out again spasmodically 
through the day, as often as a gang of men and boys gather to 
struggle for the copies of evening editions, sped out on foot and 
on rapid wheels, skimming recklessly through the stream of 
traffic that flows so slowly and steadily in Fleet Street. 

The newsboys of London, for all their sprightliness, are not 
a cheerful sight to one who considers their future. Lads of our 
day, instead of the dull monotony of learning a trade, take only 
too willingly to such casual, precarious, and independent ways 
of earning a livelihood, which have spells of demoralizing idleness 
mixed with bursts of strenuous and exciting activity, the worst 
of it being that they lead to no regular employment. Not every 
shouter of " All the winners !" falls into a steady stride of work ; 
not every golf -caddie can become a professional ; our telegraph- 
boys and messenger-boys do not all find places as adult Mercuries. 
Such casual and temporary work for tempting wages proves an 
apprenticeship to uselessness ; and the easy picking up of coppers 
in the streets is the cause of many untaught urchins growing to 
swell the begging processions of the unemployed and the hapless 
clients of the Old Bailey. 

The unemployed of former periods must once have been 
familiar with this part of London, whose street names still tell 
how it was covered by the precincts of monasteries, the White- 
friars, and the Blackfriars* not to speak of those soldier-monks* 


the Templars. Carmelite Street, now a busy manufactory of 
public opinion, records the Whitefriars, their name cherished 
also by a jovial club of penmen who make good cheer on Fridays 
when they " fast " in Fleet Street. I remember an annual 
festival of this club, a generation ago, at which the president, 
A Villi am Sawyer, drew a picture of the lives of those monks whose 
lighter moments the genial brotherhood still seeks to emulate. 
We were told how the latest manuscript would be discussed, 
the latest vintage tasted, the latest news questioned, " and the 
latest scandal " — here the company interrupted with a long- 
drawn groan, changed to enormous laughter, when the orator 
could gravely end — " was strictly tabooed." This suggests 
another speech, perhaps unauthentic ally delivered at the adjacent 
banqueting hall of that noble charity the Scottish Hospital. 
The speaker began, " My Lords and Gentlemen, I am a Scotsman " 
— tumultuous applause for several minutes, till the sentence got 
itself finished — " neither by birth nor by education !" 

The godfathers of the Whitefriars club left a less playful relic 
of their old home. Till legally abolished at the end of the 
seventeenth century, its right of sanctuary availed debtors and 
other law- shy residents, so that the purlieus of Fleet Street, on 
the south side, became a haunt of poverty and scoundrelism, 
the Alsatia described in the Fortunes of Nigel. The precincts 
of other ex-monasteries long kept the same privilege to temper 
the severity of the law. In former days the most frequented and 
most disreputable sanctuary had been St. Martin's Le Grand, 
once denounced as a nuisance by honest citizens, and not legally 
purged till 1697, when it seems to have become such a rookery of 
foreigners as can now be looked for in Soho. One of those 
cities of refuge lasted down to our own time, the sanctuary 
bounds of Holyrood, where Scott must have known many 
embarrassed gentlemen fain to find quarters ; and in my own 
youth I have heard amusing tales of hazards run by tethered 
inmates who might have outstayed their Sabbath licence, or 
stolen down to Musselburgh for a furtive round of golf : one 
such false fugitive was fabled as playing his last hole with the 
bailiffs closing round him, then flinging down his clubs and taking 
10 his heels for a game at prisoner's base. When the Comte 



d'Artois, afterwards Charles X., was first lodged in Holyrood, 
this accommodation had been thoughtfully provided by our 
Government to shield the Prince from his creditors. 

It must be the Scottish Hospital in Crane Court that is affecting 
my compass to northward aberrations, as I try to steer a straight 
course for Temple Bar ; or am I obsessed by the number of 
Scots who find berths hereabouts, not only at the Scotsman 
Office ? Thackeray represents the press of his day as largely 
officered by Irishmen, who in our generation seem to have been 
much supplanted by aspirants from north of the Tweed. The 
last census showed that in London Caledonians almost equalled 
Hibernians ; and Dr. Johnson could not now " take a walk down 
Fleet Street " without at every step being jostled into his 
Fee-fo-fum humour against BoswelPs countrymen. 

G. A. Sala confessed to the invention of that apocryphal saying 
for the Great Bear of letters, who must indeed have often lumbered 
up and down Fleet Street on his way from Bolt Court or Gough 
Square to St. Clement's Church, where his pew is still shown, 
and a memorial window has lately been erected to his memory. 
Even in his day, this now thronged thoroughfare was so lively 
that to Boswell it appeared " the most cheerful scene in the 
world " ; but once it had been a quasi-suburban road, beside 
which monasteries and sanctuaries arose on the way from London 
to Westminster. Here we are still within the old Liberties of 
the City, that, when it burst out of its cramping walls, set up 
new limits on this side at Holborn Bars and Temple Bar. One 
need not have grey hairs to remember when Temple Bar, monu- 
ment of the Great Fire's clearance, denounced by Dickens as 
" a leaden- headed old obstruction," still blocked the flow of 
traffic from the Strand, till it became replaced by a less obtrusive 
erection. But Temple Bar has only retired from business, like 
many another citizen, to a quiet old age in the country. On the 
edge of Hertfordshire, near the banks of the New Kiver, it stands 
grey and sturdy as a gate of Theobald's Park, the favourite seat 
of that timid Nimrod King James, and there looks like to outlive 
the flighty Griffin which now marks the City boundary. 



The City being taken as the heart of London, there are two 
main arteries by which its blood is put in circulation. One is 
Holborn, prolonged by Oxford Street and the Uxbridge Road, 
so as to make almost a straight line through the metropolis, 
continued eastward from Aldgate along the great Whitechapel 
highway, in all a distance of some ten miles for a bee that had 
spare time to measure it from Bow Bridge to Hammersmith. 
The other, beside the curving bank of the river, has a shorter 
stretch of a mile or so to the central ganglion where it branches 
into several veins ; yet its former course may be roughly followed 
by Pall Mall and Piccadilly, along the Parks and through Kensing- 
ton High Street on to Kew Bridge. If any thoroughfare is to 
rank as chief street of all London, it is the Strand, till the other 
day choked by double tides of business and pleasure, but now 
opened out more roomily, and its channel seconded by the broad 
Thames Embankment, on to which a fleet of tramcars has at 
last broken way. The still raw cut of Kingsway is also drawing 
traffic into a new current But, as we saunter towards Charing 
Cross together, we shall follow the Strand as our main line, with 
peeps of exploration on either side. Its name may at least serve 
us as a text for considering certain aspects of London life, old and 
new. If a more fanciful title were wanted for this chapter, one 
might call it "All the World's London." 

Beyond Temple Bar, the offices of business merge into a quarter 
chiefly noted for houses of entertainment. One must not count 
the Courts of Justice under a head that would seem a mockery 
to anxious suitors, not to speak of nervous witnesses and impatient 
jurymen. Yet here are often enacted thrilling spectacles to 



draw as eager crowds for admission as do any of the Thespian 
temples neighbouring this modern shrine of Themis, which some 
aver to be dedicated rather to iEolus, though all its draughts do 
not clear it of what has been described as "an amalgamated 
effluvium, a reek of stuff gowns, dog's-eared papers, mouldy- 
parchment, horsehair wigs, imperfectly washed spectators, police 
constables and witnesses, with a bracing whiff of ammonia from 
the wood pavement in the Strand outside." What one can say 
without fear of contempt of court, is that the Strand and its 
side streets are much given up to theatres, music-halls, restaurants, 
and hostelries of all kinds, making this the part of London most 
familiar to strangers, and perhaps to some Londoners. In the 
depths of Transatlantic backwoods, I once foregathered with 
a countryman holding a commission in the " Lost Legion " ; 
and his first question of home was, how fared the Alhambra or 
some such rendezvous of pleasure-seekers. Had St. Paul's or 
Exeter Hall been his focus of regard, he might not have come 
to play the " remittance man " so far away. 

In the Strand itself it was my chance to meet a young American 
seeking direction to Furnival's Inn, where he desired to lodge 
because Dickens lived in that " hotel." Again, I have known 
another New Englander ready to quarter himself upon the 
" House " of a celebrated Briton, because he took this title to 
imply an hotel, as it did in Boston. The Dickens enthusiast 
was not so far out, since at that time a lodging for strangers was 
contained within Furnival's Inn, now rebuilt as an Insurance 
Office by a Company so prudential in its dealings as to have 
become one of the great landlords of London. 

Inns, in our fathers' sense, seem to be shrinking out of existence 
or swelling themselves as " hotels " ; but in this part of London 
there are still " Inns " of much dignity that do not offer accom- 
modation to " transient " guests. The name that began as 
meaning a large house, is still borne in honour by the Inns of 
Court, where successful lawyers now have their chambers rather 
than their homes ; and would-be successful ones have at least 
their names on a door to which clients may or may not come. 
The unsuccessful are not now so " contented to sleep in dingy 


closets, and to pay for the sitting-room and cupboard which is 
their dormitory, the price of a good villa and garden in the 
suburbs " ; but some Spartan Templars still spend dusty years 
in a cramped, rat-riddled garret, perhaps on no sweeter fare than 
eating their hearts out for disappointment and envy of more 
fortunate brethren. A. may have been the hopeful glory of 
his school and college, but he found his laurels soon fade in this 
smoky air, and has been fain, like George Warrington, to acquaint 
himself with editors rather than solicitors, while in his chosen 
career he sees himself passed by the tortoise B., whose first step 
towards the goal was marrying a "rich attorney's elderly, ugly 
daughter," or by the once despised C. who brings to this market 
just the qualities of carefulness, readiness, glibness, unscrupulous- 
ness, or what not, that find demand. These old Inns have hid 
many tragedies of blighted lives, enacted behind the scenes of 
the legal stage on which not always the best men get the leading 
parts. I speak feelingly, as one who was to have been appren- 
ticed to this trade, but early deserted to the ranks recruited by 
many a sucking Solon who " penned a stanza when he should 
engross." Looking back to the companions of my own youth, 
I see how those harnessed to the law have for good or ill not 
always sped according to promise or expectation. In this career, 
especially, it seems as if a certain baser alloy were useful in 
tempering intellectual gold. 

The Inns of Court, as we all know, are time-honoured and 
dignified institutions, each with its Chapel, its Library, and its 
Hall, through which latter aspirants eat their way to the Bar, 
now fenced, indeed, by more intellectual ordeals ; but the final 
stage is marked by the ceremony of a call supper, when libation 
seems the chief rite. The most illustrious of these Inns is the 
Temple, in which arms may be said to have ceded to the gown. 
It was the home of that proud, rich, and envied order of Knights 
Templar, who at the end of the twelfth century moved here 
from Holborn, like a prosperous barrister rising from Bloomsbury 
to Belgravia. Here, in imitation of that of the Holy Sepulchre 
they were vowed to defend, they built one of their round churches, 
now owned by a fraternity more devoted to law than to Gospel. 


The incumbent of this venerable church bears the title of Master, 
an office shorn of the martial glory that once gave a double halo 
to the head of priest-warriors, whose swords long ago went to 
rust, but we cannot be so sure that their souls are with the 

One of the darkest puzzles of history is the fate of the Templars, 
whose crimes, whatever they were, came to be glaringly punished. 
Their original badge was two men riding on one horse, emblem 
of a pride that aped humility. By this darling sin of the devil 
they fell from the height to which they had risen by courage and 
devotion, waxing so rich and luxurious that their wealth seemed 
too much to be won honestly, when their Grand Master held his 
head high as any king. The kings of Europe grew jealous of 
a power that owned no lord but the Pope, while the arrogance 
of the Templars made them hateful to great and small. So they 
had few friends when Philip of France, where their lands mainly 
lay, cast covetous eyes upon such dubiously earned increment, 
after he had drained all other resources by adulterating his coin- 
age, robbing the Jews, and even taxing the property of the Church. 
The haughty Grand Master and sixty of the knights were tortured 
into confessions that brought them to the stake, like many better 
men, and some perhaps worse. In England, the Templars had 
a less cruel ordeal to bear ; and there as elsewhere the charges 
against them were shown to be more or less false. But the Pope 
seems to have voiced general opinion in abolishing the order by 
a Bull of a.d. 1312 ; then some of its members, with part of its 
property, passed to the rival order of Hospitallers, who, rich as 
they too had grown, bore a better name, and longer kept their 
vows in exercise by doughty deeds against the unbelievers. 

The Knights of St. John had their own palace in Clerkenwell, 
a fragment of it now held by the modern brotherhood that has 
revived their name. The fate of the Templars made a striking 
lesson for them as to the vanity of wealth ; or it may be that, as 
having no use for the London Temple, they handed it over to 
the lawyers, a new body in the State, by this time grown inde- 
pendent of the Church clergy. Law made itself at home here 
so soon that before the end of the century Chaucer could speak 


of " A manciple of a temple." Chaucer himself is supposed to 
have had a Temple chamber, when he was fined two shillings 
"for beating a Franciscan friar in Fleet Street." The Outer 
Temple, on the western side, indeed, seems not to have been 
affected by the profession ; but the only remnant of this division 
is its water-gate at the bottom of Essex Street. The rest was 
partitioned between the two legal guilds known as the Middle 
and the Inner Temple, separated by barriers not apparent to 
a layman's eye. 

The Temple's quaint and quiet courts make one of the sights 
of London, with the old-world gardens blooming among their 
smoke-grimed walls, green relic of a generation not so hard pressed 
for choice building-sites. It was in the Temple Garden, according 
to Shakespeare, that a brawl of noblemen ended in plucking of 
the red and white roses which became badges for a generation 
of civil war. The Temple Chambers are mainly occupied by 
lawyers ; yet other occupants have entered under the cloak of 
a legal tenancy. The name of Johnson's Buildings and the tomb 
of Goldsmith remind us how authors, too, lived and died here. 
The Court where Pendennis and his friend Warrington had their 
rooms, though neither of them appears to have much worn wig 
and gown, gets its name from the Middle Temple badge of the 
Lamb and Flag, so freely displayed on these buildings ; but it 
may well recall the most famous of all laymen lodged in " those 
bricky towers. ' ' Charles Lamb was born here as son of a Bencher's 
servant or factotum, at a time when a well-to-do lawyer would 
be content with such snug quarters. Elia, for one, desired no 
more congenial home of a dreamy childhood. 

Indeed, it is the most elegant spot in the Metropolis. What a 
transition for a countryman visiting London for the first time — the 
passing from the crowded Strand or Fleet Street, by unexpected 
avenues, into its magnificent ample squares, its classic green recesses ! 
What a cheerful, liberal look hath that portion of it which, from three 
sides, overlooks the greater garden ; that goodly pile 

Of building strong, albeit of Paper hight, 

confronting with massy contrast, the lighter, older, more fantastically 
shrouded one, named of Harcourt, with the cheerful Crown Office- 



row (place of my kindly engendure), right opposite the stately stream, 
which washes the garden foot with her yet scarcely trade-polluted 
waters, and seems but just weaned from her Twickenham Naiades ! — 
a man would give something to have been born in such places. What 
a collegiate aspect has that fine Elizabethan hall, where the fountain 
plays, which I have made to rise and fall, how many times ! to the 
astoundment of the young urchins, my contemporaries, who, not being 
able to guess at its recondite machinery, were almost tempted to hail 
the wondrous work as magic ! What an antique air had the now 
almost effaced sun-dials, with their moral inscriptions, seeming coevals 
with that time which they measured, and to take their revelations of 
its flight immediately from heaven, holding correspondence with the 
fountain of light ! How would the dark line steal imperceptibly on, 
watched by the eye of childhood, eager to detect its movement, never 
catched, nice as an evanescent cloud, or the first arrests of sleep ! 

Ah ! yet doth beauty like a dial hand 
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived ! 

Rebuilding has of course wiped off some of the mellow bloom 
of the Temple ; but there are still good old buildings enough to 
keep up its character. The narrow lane by which it is entered 
from Fleet Street, shows what London streets would be when the 
Great Fire was luckily stayed beside the Temple Church. At 
this entrance, facing Fleet Street, is a house that well deserves 
to have been taken under the protecting wing of the County 
Council, though its pretension as a palace of Wolsey seems 
fondly invented. The device of the Prince of Wales' feathers 
has suggested it as destined for the short-lived Prince Henry, 
who died in 1612, about the time this house was rebuilt ; and 
it is also supposed to have been used as an office of the Duchy of 
Cornwall. Whatever dignity it may have had, it came down 
in the world, when about a century ago was moved into it the 
collection of waxworks formed by Mrs. Salmon, a Madame 
Tussaud of the Spectator's time, so that it may at least have 
housed the counterfeit presentments of kings and princes. For 
some two generations now it has been a hairdresser's shop, after 
at one time being a tavern or coffee-house, such as in Don Quixote's 
country, too, gave a stage for shows and performances. Before 
waxworks were thought of, giants, dwarfs, wild men, scaly or 


bristly children, and the like prodigies, would come to be exhibited 
at some such house of call, as appears from a British Museum 
collection of advertisements, among which one strikes me with 
misgiving whether a forebear of mine were not a seventeenth- 
century Barnum. 

At Moncreffs Coffee-House in Threadneedle Street, near the Royal 
Exchange, is exposed to view for sixpence apiece a MONSTER that 
lately died there, being Humane upwards, and Bruit downwards. 
Wonderful to behold : the like was never seen in England before. . . . 

And a very fine CIVET CAT, spotted like a Leopard, and is now 
alive, that was brought from Africa with it. 

When there are said to have been two thousand coffee-houses 
in London, which did not confine their dealings to temperance 
beverages, several of them sought to draw custom by an exhibi- 
tion of curiosities, like " Don Saltero's " Museum at Chelsea 
mentioned in the Toiler. I can only guess at that " Moncreff " 
as a progenitor of Alexander Moncrieff, who in the next century 
was host of the " Rainbow " in Fleet Street. His grandson, 
W. T. Moncrieff, became a more notable showman, author of the 
dramatic version of Tom and Jerry and other once popular plays, 
the profits of which did not keep him from dying a brother of 
the Charterhouse, as did his fellow dramatist, T. M. Morton, best 
remembered by the Box and Cox that still have their joint home 
on our stage. 

There were many famous taverns about the Temple, from the 
days when Ben Jonson took his ease at the sign of the " Devil," 
that did not get its name from any connection with lawyers, but 
from an orthodox legend in which the adjacent St. Dunstan 
figured with his tongs. Child's Bank, one of the oldest in London, 
the " Telson's " of Dickens' Tale of Two Cities, has been rebuilt 
on its site. Of hostelries on the east side of Temple Bar, some 
are still extant in name or in a rebuilt form, the " Mitre," the 
" Rainbow," and the " Cock," whose " plump head-waiter !" 
stands embalmed in Tennyson's verse. "Dick's," another 
famous resort here, vanished a few years ago. The most apparent 
antiquity is claimed by the " Cheshire Cheese," where pressmen 
of our day seek inspiration and refreshment in rooms, or at least 



fittings, that may have been known to Johnson and Goldsmith. 
Westward, at the corner of Arundel Street, opposite Smith's 
great newspaper distributing agency, stood the " Crown and 
Anchor," once famed for Radical banquets, afterwards turned into 
a club-house, which had various names and chequered fortunes. 
Here we reach the province of modern hotels ; but first let us 
have done with " Inns " in the older sense. The old City seems 
to have been shy of harbouring lawyers, kept aloof on her outer 
skirts ; and this must make my excuse for stringing their havens 
on the line of the Strand. 

Behind the Law Courts, beside Chancery Lane, that was once 
a " New Street," lies Lincoln's Inn, also displaying a variety of 
buildings old and new, from the Jacobean Old Hall, and solid 
fronts of the next century, down to the restorations carried out 
under Lord Grimthorpe's domineering auspices. Legend has it 
that Ben Jonson worked with his trowel on an earlier alteration. 
The Chapel shows the peculiar feature of being borne up on the 
arches of an open crypt, if that expression be allowable. The 
noble New Hall, adorned with a large fresco painting by 
G. F. Watts, stands on the other side. Another modern building 
of Lincoln's Inn is the Drill Hall of the gentlemen-at-arms, whose 
nickname, "The Devil's Own," has been attributed to the wit of 
George III., while a more professional joke gave them as motto 
" Retained for the Defence." All along, the lawyers have shown 
themselves ready to take up arms in time of need, as when five 
hundred of them marched down to guard Charles I. at the out- 
break of the Civil War, and when they garrisoned their gates 
against the Gordon rioters. The Inns of Court gave forty briefless 
recruits to the gallant band that won its spurs for the volunteer 
force in South Africa, and their contingent is now promoted as 
an Officers ' Training Corps under the new model. But not all 
the students of Lincoln's Inn seem likely to serve in the Territorial 
army, since it has become favoured by our dusky fellow-subjects, 
who at the Hall dinner make a mottled show of black and brown 
among truly British faces. 

Lincoln's Inn Fields, entered from Holborn by their " Turn- 
stiles," form the largest square in London, its twelve-acre area, 



that would hold the Great Pyramid, now turned into a public 
garden, and its well-worn mansions much given up to solicitors, 
though they no longer live and die here as did Mr. Tulkinghorn. 
Another profession is represented on the south side by Surgeon's 
Hall, with its grim Museum of skeletons, a place of instruction 
rather than entertainment. On the opposite side lurks an insti- 
tution not enough known to the public, that is invited to enter 
gratis. Nearly a century after Sir Hans Sloane's collections 
became the nucleus of the British Museum, the eccentric architect, 
Sir John Soane, had the ambition of earning similar credit. 
Having quarrelled with his son, an author undutiful enough 
to criticize the paternal taste, he left to the public his house with 
its omnium gatherum of contents, including many valuable pictures, 
a dozen by Hogarth, and other works of art and vertu. Among 
them is the great Egyptian sarcophagus discovered by Belzoni, 
that Herculean Italian explorer who, on an early stage of his 
career, was found playing ^he acrobat at Bartholomew Fair. 
The Soane Museum, too much ignored, is well worth the trouble 
of writing one's name in the hall, when it stands open most days 
m summer. And while at sight-seeing, one should take a look 
About the Square's south-west corner, where a sweeping clear- 
ance of slums has as yet spared one house in Portsmouth Street 
that boasts itself to be the original of the " Old Curiosity Shop." 
Gray's Inn, lying on the farther side of Holborn, though it 
keeps its status as an Inn of Court, has been invaded by the 
laity, its rooms let out to all sorts and conditions of men, and 
women. I have known a young married couple established here 
rery snugly, not so much at the mercy of such a laundress as 
David Copperfield's. Dr. Kenealy was, perhaps, the last barrister 
of note to keep chambers here. But Gray's Inn, too, is redolent 
of legal memories, Bacon's for one, whose essays are dated from it, 
and he is said to have laid out the gardens, after his own model, 
planting a now decrepit catalpa tree, the slip of which may have 
been brought across the Atlantic by Kaleigh when this was a 
chief nursery of learned lawyers. So good Americans must by 
no meOs neglect to visit Gray's Inn, where they will see an 
actual rookery nestled in the grounds of what was once a country 


house ; and to them, as to Hawthorne, it may have the effect of 
a spell " to find so much of ancient quietude in the monster 
City's very jaws, which yet the monster shall not eat up — right 
in its very belly indeed, which yet in all these ages it shall not 
digest and convert into the same substance as the rest of its 
bustling streets." But here, also, some of the most picturesque 
features have been renovated away, or, again, in part restored 
from the desecration of a stucco age that defaced the exterior 
of the beautiful Hall, in which Shakespeare's Midsummer Night'- 
Dream is believed to have been first acted before Queen Elizabeth, 
as the Middle Temple Hall made a stage for his Twelfth Night. 

In the same once suburban district, just outside the City, 
and not far off its way to the Courts at Westminster, there are, 
or were, several smaller " Inns of Chancery " that once made 
colleges for attorneys ; but now that the " lower branch " is 
fostered by the Incorporated Law Society, these have been totter- 
ing down of late years, letting daylight in upon a bewildered 
multitude of rats. Dane's Inn, no ancient one indeed, is gone. 
Clement's Inn, where Justice Shallow lay when he heard the 
chimes at midnight, is smartly rebuilt. Another Inn hard by 
is hardly remembered except by a street ballad, celebrating 
a murder that made a great sensation in its day. 

They cut his throat from ear to ear, 

His brains they battered in : 
His name was Mr. William Weare, 

He dwelt in Lyon's Inn. 

On the opposite side of Chancery Lane, Clifford's Inn stands 
in imminent peril, at the best, of restoration. Its neighbour, 
Serjeant's Inn, is sold, having lost its raison d'etre when the 
order of Serjeants at Law was abolished in our time, a few sur- 
vivors pocketing a good solatium in their share of the common 
property. Mr. Serjeant Cox, the last of the order, had a sharp eye 
on both worlds ; and if not by his Psychical Society enterprises, 
by the periodicals he owned, the Field, the Queen, and so forth, he 
acquired a beautiful seat at Highwood Hill, near Edgware, where 
the Hall of his Inn was reproduced as a monument. The building 


has other tenants till it may be swept away, like old houses 
supplanted by the carefully isolated block of the Record Office, 
whose not yet blackened walls contain Domesday Book and other 
treasures of the past. Barnard's Inn, in Holborn, is now full of 
young life as the Mercers' School ; and its neighbour Furnival's 
Inn, as already mentioned, has been turned into an Insurance 
Office, while Thavies Inn, near Holborn Viaduct, which seems an 
alias for "Taffy's Inn," could no longer lodge such an ambitious 
spirit as the ablest member of the firm Quirk, Gammon and 
Snap. There were others once, which live only in the pages 
of Bleak House and Pendennis. The " Ancients " of some of 
these old Inns are reproached with having made too much haste 
to line their own pockets by selling valuable sites over which 
custom had given them ownership. 

It was not only the rats that were disturbed, when crazy 
buildings came to be pulled down. Crusty and dusty old bache- 
lors, who had grown long at home in their dark chambers, found 
themselves driven forth blinking and hooting into raw daylight. 
I wonder what voice the author of Erewhon would have lifted up, 
had he lived to be evicted from his familiar quarters in Clifford's 
Inn, apparently the oldest of all, that a century before sheltered 
Lamb's absent-minded friend, George Dyer. Another friend of 
mine had the pain of being first burned, then turned out of two 
successive lodgings in New Inn, a deserted fragment of which 
stands now awaiting its fall, like a broken back-tooth in the 
gaping crescent of Aldwych, which the County Council dentists 
have not yet filled with a new set of structures. My friend, more 
distinguished in the realm of exact science than in that of imagina- 
tion, cherishes a romantic belief about both his New Inn sets of 
chambers, that they were no other than those occupied re- 
spectively by Captain Costigan and the Chevalier Strong. Not 
long ago, he took me over the deserted abode, reconstituting the 
scene in which one of those worthies bilked his duns by risking 
his neck to crawl and climb into the friendly neighbour's window, 
and slip out by an unwatched staircase. Naturally he has no 
patience with heretics who hold the " Shepherd's Inn " of the 
novel to have been Clement's Inn in its unregenerate days. 



Banished reluctantly from New Inn, this laudator temporis 
acti found congenial refuge in Staple Inn, a " home of ancient 
peace," preserved out of sentimental rather than prudential 
considerations by the Insurance Company that transformed 
Furnival's Inn, over the way. Outside are the obelisks between 
which a chain could be stretched to bar the Holborn octroi of the 
City ; and the name Staple seems connected with the wool that 
is believed to have been weighed and taxed in the courtyard of 
this Inn. Its picturesquely gabled front, now restored, appears 
the last fragment of Tudor domestic architecture in London, 
part of it perhaps dating from Richard III. It made one of 
Dr. Johnson's many residences ; in it is said to have been written 
his Rasselas, but he appears to have moved in just as the book 
was published. It figures among the scenes in Edwin Brood. 
The lawyers have long abandoned it to miscellaneous hermits ; 
and the fine old Hall, that once no doubt smoked with good cheer, 
is now taken up by the dry doings of the Society of Actuaries, 
beneath the bust of a fitting patron saint, the Napier of logarithm 

In the great clearance about Aldwych, the rebuilding of which 
seems to be a little hanging fire, there will no doubt spring up new 
hostels open to all the world. There was long contention over 
the christening of this crescent, ended by restoring the old name 
Aldwych, while the broad road behind leading across to Holborn 
was loyally dubbed Kingsway, when it began to emerge from a 
chaos into which had been swept some very unsavoury byways. 
Quite juvenile Rip van Winkles may wonder what has become 
of Holywell Street, that shady haunt of old book-hunters, that 
in its dark back rooms carried on a more dishonest commerce, 
giving it a reputation it sought to sweeten by re-christening itself 
Booksellers' Row in its old age. Its original godfather was, of 
course, the holy well, that springs, I understand, under Glad- 
stone's statue in the now broadened thoroughfare. When this 
came to be looked into of late, it was found littered with crooked 
pins and other superstitious offerings such as are still half credu- 
lously, half jestingly, cast into sacred fountains from the Land's 
End to John o' Groat's house, 


Holywell Street, a backwater of the Strand, stretched from 
St. Clement Danes to St. Mary-le-Strand, both churches now 
standing well out in the broadened thoroughfare, that at this reach 
used to be cramped into a rushing strait. St. Mary's, one of the 
fifty churches called for under Queen Anne to supply the growth 
of London beyond the City, was built on what had once been a 
scene of open-air entertainment, for here stood a tall Maypole, 
carried off, it seems, to Wanstead, where it served a graver purpose, 
bearing up for the astronomical parson, Dr. Pound, what was 
then boasted the largest telescope in the world. 

Opposite the future site of St. Mary's was the palace built by 
Lord Protector Somerset, of stone from the slighted Priory of 
St. John, quarried by gunpowder to that end, a sacrilege that 
brought no good fortune to the royal Duke. His Somerset House 
has been replaced by a block of modern buildings, now divided 
between King's College and various Government offices, best 
known to the public, perhaps, for the registry of wills. The 
memory of another princely palace is preserved by the noble 
Chapel Royal of the Savoy, John of Gaunt's house, burnt by the 
followers of Wat Tyler. Most of the Strand's side-streets recall 
how here once stood hotels in the French sense, entre cour et 
jardin, the semi-suburban seats of noblemen and prelates, who, 
long before the Court occupied Whitehall, built themselves 
mansions upon the Thames, that was then the best highway to 
Westminster, or to the Traitors' Gate of the Tower. 

Here Arundel's famed structure reared its frame, 
The street alone retains an empty name. . . . 
There Essex' stately pile adorned the shore, 
There Cecil's, Bedford's, Villiers', now no more. 

The Water Gate of York House still stands as memorial of the 
northern Archbishop's palace, afterwards acquired by the Duke 
of Buckingham. His name and title were long embalmed in five 
streets beside Charing Cross Station : George — Villiers — Duke — 
Of — Buckingham — three of them still in evidence, but George 
Street became York Buildings and Of Lane was dignified as 
York Place. Names like Norfolk Street, Southampton Street, 


and Chandos Street hint at similar beginnings. But John 
Street, Robert Street and Adam Street record the two builder 
brothers who left their mark on Georgian London, notably in 
the riverside terrace christened from them the Adelphi. 

The dust of those old Inns once shaken from our feet, we soon 
come to the quarter of modern hotels. Offices still prevail in 
the smartened streets leading down from Aldwych to the river ; 
but a little farther west we find the great palaces that have sprung 
up by the Strand to invite strangers within our gates. The newest 
of all, that takes the title of " The Strand Palace Hotel," fills 
the place of Exeter Hall, a place of religious exercises helping 
to whitewash the old ill-fame of Exeter Street. This institution 
had followed Exeter Change, about a century ago used as a 
menagerie of wild beasts, which once came near being let loose 
into the street, when the must elephant Chunee struggled to break 
out of his cage, and after being ineffectually treated with mon- 
strous doses of physic, and of poison, he had to be killed by 
unskilful hands, the soldiers on guard at Somerset House called 
in as well as the police ; then it took a bombardment of over an 
hour to lay him low with more than a hundred bullets in his 
thick hide. 

The Strand Hotel now dominates and dwarfs an older hostelry, 
squeezed up into a corner of it, Haxell's, the ci-devant Exeter Hall 
Hotel, which has a special interest for me, since here I slept 
my first night in town, or did not sleep till morning, kept awake 
through the small hours by the amazing rattle of cabs and the 
rumble of market waggons. I am glad to see that my first London 
lodging still holds out, while other old landmarks have been 
destroyed or removed, like Rimmell's the perfumer's, which 
blooms afresh a few doors off, but used to stand at the corner 
over the way, exhaling such an advertisement, that a Strand 
boy, asked the way to Exeter Hall, could say " Keep straight on 
till you come to a smell, and it's just opposite." On the same 
side of the street, also, has been rebuilt Simpson's, which had a 
name for solid English fare, along with an incongruous fame as 
resort of cosmopolitan chess-players to its " Cigar Divan," a 
refuge of clubless youth in days when cigars were not smoked 


everywhere. An old picture shows the name of Simpson nestling 
under Exeter Change, with the inscription Billiard Boom at 
the corner, so I suppose it had been moved across the Strand 
before my time. Not far off are good old-fashioned hotels, like 
the " Tavistock " and the " Bedford," that laid themselves out 
for bachelors, waited on by discreet and familiar attendants like 
the old John who received Major Dobbin, after ten years' absence 
in India, without the least surprise : " Put the Major's things 
in twenty-three, that's his room." 

No modest Major could expect to be greeted thus in the new 
palace hostels of the Strand, where the guest gets a sense of his 
own insignificance as No. 666 or what not, and mine host becomes 
a Joint Stock Company, Limited, while the snuffy old waiter, 
once good enough for John Bull, is translated into a legion of 
mainly alien menials. Of the army of 10,000 or so who man 
our London hotels, some three-fourths are estimated to be 
foreigners. The prosperity of such international caravanserais, 
whether in the way of cause or effect, implies London's rising 
in the world as the resort of strangers. Good Yankees, when 
they died to Broadway or Beacon Street, used to go to Paris ; 
now their Elysian fields seem rather to be sought on the Thames 
Embankment, where even French tourists come to be familiar 
figures of late years. It is Transatlantic custom, I take it, that 
has chiefly made demand for the luxurious accommodation 
affected by simple-minded republicans away from home. One 
understands that the sky-scraping hotels of New York look down 
even on our latest Babels as " back numbers " ; but wherever 
he goes, Uncle Sam is content with nothing but the best to be 
got ; and till he took to visiting us so freely, the best we had to 
offer him in this sort showed indeed much room for improve- 

Has anyone ever written a complete history of English hos- 
telries, from the " Coldharbours " that supplied only bare shelter 
for man and beast, like an Eastern serai, down through the age of 
the "Boar's Head " taverns and the " Garters," where Falstaffs 
" sat at ten pounds a week," but did not always settle the bill ? 
In my youth, little progress had been made ; we old fogeys can 




remember the Mid- Victorian hotel, at which still lingered the 
tradition that a traveller's main business was drinking for the 
good of the house. " Waiter, have you anything to while away 
the time till dinner 1" asked Punch's guest, and was promptly 
answered : " Yes, sir, wine or spirits, sir ?" The " Georges " 
and " Dragons " in country towns are often little developed 
out of this state, with their cheerless coffee-rooms, their bare 
bedrooms, their stuffy smoking-rooms, their liveliest apartment 
the bar parlour used as a club by local sons of Belial ; and their 
choice of cold meat or bacon and eggs for ordinary fare. Cycles 
and automobiles, of course, have stirred up many roadside inns ; 
while some still remain as dismal as they are depicted by the 
satirist who, a century ago, wrote so amusingly on The Miseries of 
Human Life. But we remember how, in London, the " Grosvenor " 
and the "Langham" made a new departure in this enterprise, 
soon followed by hotels that were not ashamed to take their titles 
from adjacent palaces, and by big ones tacked on to railway 
terminuses. Then arose Northumberland Avenue with its 
" Grand " and " Metropole " that set a copy heading in the matter 
of hotel names, these soon cast into the shade by others still more 
pretentious; and the cry is still "They come," even though 
original shareholders drop off flaccid and drained. 

The population of the big hotels about Charing Cross, at their 
full season, must be equal to that of a small town. All the world 
and his wife may be seen taking their ease in the dining-rooms 
and lounges, where they try to look quite at home. One cannot 
help speculating how many of the gentlemen and ladies, here 
waited on by liveried menials, are accustomed to other ministra- 
tions than those of some neat - handed Phyllis. According to 
Mr. G. R. Sims, in his Mysteries of London, some hotel guests, 
for all their fine clothes and manners, might be more fitly lodged 
in a cell of Holloway or Brixton. No doubt the management of 
such a house of universal call has to keep a detective eye on 
certain customers, as to whom strange stories could be told. 
Princes and noblemen may be mixed with the throng ; I have 
stayed at an hotel with a live king, and never knew it till one day 
I thought of asking why a couple of footmen stood always in 



waiting by a certain corridor. But most of the people one sees 
are no doubt mere well-to-do citizens of some kingdom or 
republic ; and I sometimes wonder if many of them would not 
be more at home in an hotel that provided the essentials of 
homely yet not inelegant comfort, without such a show of palatial 

The American guests to whom this " high-toned " style of 
accommodation recommends itself, used to cause scandal and 
grudges by neglecting the palm-oil with which such elaborate 
machinery is greased. Perhaps there are still some stalwart 
republicans who stand out against paying a cent beyond what is 
in the bill. In their country, a generation ago, I have known 
gratuities indignantly refused by social inferiors, if there are any 
such persons across the Atlantic ; and in my own country, north 
of the Tweed, I have had the same experience, as in no other 
civilized land. I shall never forget James Russell Lowell's indig- 
nation when I asked if I should tip anyone at an American hotel — 
" Niggers and foreigners, if you like, but an American, never !" 
Now, if all tales be true, things are so much changed in a genera- 
tion that the tipping of American hotel life might almost be called 

However this may be, it seems that in Britain, of late years, 
tipping has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished. 
It is an old story that at taverns, as in law-courts, even in church 
services, officiants were paid by fees, not always exactly fixed, 
though a rough scale would be understood on each side. Some 
of us can remember how an attempt was made to do away with 
this unsatisfactory system, when hotels took to charging for 
" attendance." What happened was that the landlord pocketed 
the extra charge, while the guest soon found himself expected to 
pay the servants as before. For this bad custom both parties 
are to blame. The servant, such is human nature, prefers the 
excitement of uncertainty ; and sometimes, indeed, finds more 
to be expected of casual generosity than on a strict calculation 
of the value of his services. The tipper, also human, is apt to 
enjoy playing the sixpenny or twopenny patron, a most pitiful 
ambition, and one to be reformed altogether in a truly democratic 


state, where no man has the right to put his fellow-citizens to an 
abased attitude of looking out for gratuities. 

The case of flunkeys seems past praying for, though the " vails " 
of old days became a tax that provoked radical reform. One 
would like to see a revolt against extortionate tyrants of the 
menial world, such as gamekeepers, who turn up their noses at 
silver fees, and expect to be bribed by five-pound notes. The 
evil has its root in the snobbery that has grown so rank in our 
generation, which does not see self-respect increasing along the 
rate of wages. In one field this weed has sprung up within quite 
recent recollection. Hairdressers now, it seems, expect to have 
a trifle given them, as dvstoor on the charge for their ministrations. 
It is, of course, the sheepish public's own fault that it lets itself 
be thus shorn. At one of the great Stores, a director informs 
me, the hairdressers' men are paid extra wages on the under- 
standing that they get nothing beyond ; but, when waiting my 
turn in that department, one day, I observed how nearly every 
customer, all the young men, slipped a copper or two into the 
hand of his officiant ; and when I neglected this ceremony my 
change was banged down in a manner to let me know what I 
should think of myself. In this matter I feel with J. R. Lowell : 
I should not so much mind flinging twopences to foreigners ; 
but it goes against the grain to degrade a fellow-countryman by 
gifts that curse him who gives as him who takes. In a pretty 
wide range of travel, I have observed how the prevalence of 
bakshish is always in inverse ratio to the standard of honesty and 
manliness ; and it is no good sign of national health that John 
Bull seems relapsing into an Oriental weakness. 

If one had to gratify only some man or maid with whom one 
had come into serviceable relations, that would not be so bad ; 
but one resents owing tribute to overfed and overfeed personages, 
who pay large premiums for the right of taxing hotel guests. 
I can pride myself on once having exhibited great moral courage 
at a Berlin hotel, whose proud porter, all gorgeous uniform and 
insolent swagger, would hardly answer a civil question till it 
came to the point of departure ; but when, gold-laced cap in hand, 
he cringed at the omnibus door, I dumbfounded him by a care- 


fully composed address to the effect that I owed him nothing for 
civility, and for his pretensions would pay not one pfennig : my 
German fellow-travellers seemed to think me over bold as ventur- 
ing thus to rebuke a man in such a uniform. In Austria, where 
already is felt a breath of the East, one pays for every meal at the 
time, and there are usually three waiters who levy a trifling tip, 
while one has done the work. This exaction became so trouble- 
some, that some time ago, there was a movement of setting up 
" Reform " hotels, where tips were not to be expected : I know 
not if this reform has proved practicable. In Messrs. Lyons' 
Popular Cafe, a good example was set by what seems an honest 
and serious attempt to prohibit tipping ; and in the Strand Palace 
Hotel, under the same proprietorship, we are assured that this 
rule is to be enforced. It is said that self-respecting waiters would 
gladly work on another system. It is also said that the waiters 
who protest against tips are those done out of their fair share of 
the tribute. Whatever arrangements may be made to abate 
this bad custom, it will be hard to hinder the British snob from 
commanding respect and attention by a paltry bribe. 

Where tips seem most out of place is in a bath, yet there most 
surely pocketless customers have hands held out to them. I see 
that a bath-shampooer who has written his memoirs, puts as the 
climax of a good bather's qualities giving the attendants " their 
accustomed fee, whether the authorities allowed it or not " ; and 
he gravely tells of one gentleman who, having omitted " the 
usual shilling," was so conscience-stricken that next time he made 
it a guinea by way of smart-money. If all clients were so open- 
handed, a shampooer, whose business at least puts him to small 
expense for tailoring, would make a good thing of it. This 
reminiscence draws me out of the Strand to where, beside the 
fruit and vegetable market of Covent Garden, we see one old name 
that has a history — the Hummums " Hotel, at which poor 
Thaddeus of Warsaw paid his last guinea for dinner and 
breakfast. So far back as Charles I.'s reign, it appears, 
a Hammam or sweating bath was set up, perhaps by some 
Eastern traveller, in the ex-Convent Garden of Westminster 
Abbey, then turned into our first square of gentility, surrounded 


by mansions and the piazzas that still in part remain. An allu- 
sion in the Spectator shows how hummums became an English 
name for a hot bath ; and Dr. Johnson told Boswell of his wife 
going to be cupped at this hotel, which seems to have long carried 
on some such hygienic or hydropathic practice, of which there is 
no hint in Miss Porter's novel. 

It comes as a surprise to find the Turkish bath introduced 
among us almost as long ago as the slang word chouse, said to 
record the cheatery of an Ottoman ambassador's chiaus. At 
Brighton, when its Pavilion was still a palace, we hear of an 
Oriental who there practised some such treatment on a select 
body of patients. But the modern vogue of hot-air baths is 
due to a well-known character in his day, David Urquhart, M.P., 
celebrated for his vehement eccentricities, among them a constant 
suspicion of Russia and of Lord Palmerston, and his sympathy 
with what he lauded as " the Spirit of the East." This fanatic 
of Orientalism had a house near Watford, where he discomposed 
his visitors by receiving them in a bath at a temperature well on 
to boiling-point, himself and his family clad in turbans and 
gold-embroidered sheets. It was whispered that one of his 
children fell a victim to hydropathic discipline. His servants 
had to sweat in company with their master ; and his political 
admirers found their faith oozing at every pore when kept waiting 
an hour or two in a hot-house till the prophet could receive 

Urquhart found a disciple in the Irish Dr. Barter, who about 
sixty years ago used the Turkish bath at his Hydropathic Establish- 
ment at Blarney, near Cork. Thus it may be that in some parts 
of the Continent such baths are known as " Irish-Roman." Not 
long afterwards the Hammam in Jermyn Street was started by 
Urquhart himself, then the new practice soon began to spread. 
In the sixties, I remember another Turkish bath in or about 
Marlborough Street. This, I fancy, was the scene of Trollope's 
amusing adventure in An Editor's Tales, where he describes him- 
self as followed into the bath by a would-be contributor, spending 
his last three-and-sixpence on a chance of more than bare- 
faced introduction to such a patron. What seemed liker a 


real Eastern bath than our luxurious Hammams, was a shabby, 
stifling den in Leicester Square, frequented by Levantines and 
others to the manner born ; this became taken over and much 
improved by Mr. Bartholomew, who perhaps did more than 
anyone to popularize Turkish baths in different parts of the 
country. Since then many have sprung up in other quarters of 
London ; and most of them seem to flourish in a way showing 
how they supply a felt want ; but one notes that the most fre- 
quented have lately added the Russian vapour-bath to the 
hot-air rooms. 

We have passed by without notice the oldest bath in London, 
filled by Romans from the Holywell or some adjacent spring. 
This Roman Bath, one of the most interesting relics of Old London, 
may still be seen down the narrow turning of Strand Lane, beside 
Somerset House. It belongs to a large draper in New Oxford 
Street, whose staff, I am told, have the privilege of refreshing 
themselves for business in its cryptic pool, now known to few 
Londoners ; but in my youth it was open for a bracing dip in hot 
weather, while also the water — drawn from a separate basin, 
bien entendu — was in demand for hotel tables. 

The bath habit came to us, as no doubt to Rome, from the 
perspiring East ; and to Anglo-Indians we chiefly owe the daily 
tub that now seems a characteristically British institution. Our 
time has seen also the opening of many public baths, mainly due 
to that bogy of individualists, Municipal Enterprise. Some of 
us can remember how only here and there could be found a small 
swimming-bath, while in hot weather unabashed youth had more 
freedom as to washing in the Thames or the Lea. Washing is the 
significant word in old books, before London houses of any pre- 
tensions had bath-rooms, and before young University men, like 
Pendennis and Warrington, began to set up shower-baths in 
their chambers, to the disgust of grimier Templars in the floors 
below. But one kind of bath has not taken root here, such 
floating basins as line the bank of the Seine at Paris. Such a one 
was placed in the Thames, a generation ago, beside Charing Cross 
railway-bridge. The charge was high, and in summer it seemed 
well frequented, yet it did not pay : I speak feelingly, as a share- 


holder. Before long it was towed down to Southend, where now, 
with the help of the tide, it laves East-end trippers. 

To return to the head of hotels : one wonders if these new 
palaces that seem to raise the dernier cri of luxurious living away 
from home, will ever come to be looked down upon as behind the 
times. We know how once famed hostelries have fallen out of 
favour and fashion. Captain Gronow tells us how in his day the 
fashionable hotels were such as the Clarendon, Grillon's, Long's, 
and Limmer's, which last a poet rhymes with 

For gallant young gentlemen, burdened with care. 

Long's held out last in Bond Street, and some of its contem- 
poraries thrive more or less profitably; but others, through one 
cause of decay or other, have lost even their name. Nerot's, 
where Colonel Newcome put up, is now the St. James's Theatre. 
Only the other day the Star and Garter at Richmond, once re- 
nowned as scene of not austere hospitalities, came to be shut up, 
then turned to nobler purpose ; and two other chief hotels of the 
place have retired into private life. The riverside hotels that once 
netted much custom for fish dinners, seem not to keep that fame 
fresh. For such decay of suburban houses of entertainment, 
motoring is blamed, that carries pleasure-seekers so much farther 
afield ; then, of course, many once noted hostelries have gone off 
with the coaches for which they made a starting-point. 

It is about Charing Cross that in our time has sprung up the 
thickest banyan grove of millionaire bivouacs ; but this now 
sends out suckers westward, into Piccadilly and Mayfair, where 
some old houses, like Claridge's, in which crowned heads have 
been able to sleep at ease, take fresh root and expand themselves 
by new buildings. And in this quarter's side-ways there are some 
modest-looking havens of high rank, not so well known to the 
man in the street, but familiar to habitues who shun the more 
sumptuous caravanserais : we remember the quiet hotel at which 
Lord De Guest entertained Johnny Eames. Bachelors, like 
Mr. Eames, when their means allow, may live hereabouts in small 
establishments that are a sort of cross between an hotel and a 


Farther west, out Kensington way, we have a new class of 
hotel that seems to be frequented by visitors making a long stay, 
verging indeed into high-class pensions. And a great smartening 
has come to the more modest boarding-houses of this quarter, 
shy as they are of that name, " stained with all ignoble use." 
Some of us know, if only from novels, the frowsy boarding-houses 
of the last generation, refuge of old maids, young men in offices, 
and odds and ends of not always solvent humanity. In less choice 
quarters one might find such a home as Johnny Eames had with 
Mrs. Roper in his early days ; but the " paying guests " of Ken- 
sington and Bayswater need not complain of what they get at 
often moderate terms. As for " Todger's," now that rents in the 
City are so high, and fares to the suburbs so low, it has long 
vanished, or taken off its customers to some roomier and airier 

Another class of hostelry that has much improved in our time 
is the Temperance Hotel, a name once of some reproach, often 
denoting nothing more moral than a house that could not get a 
license. A number of good hotels of this order have been opened 
in the Bloomsbury quarter, about the British Museum, where 
their accommodation at a moderate fixed charge recommends 
them to modest American visitors, at home not used to ordering 
wine with their meals. And, indeed, at all British hotels Boniface, 
in whose eyes teetotalism used to be a scandal, has had to adapt 
himself and his charges to the fact that a good many customers 
can and will dine without giving him a chance of making cent, 
per cent, profit on the " wines of commerce." 

In the City, naturally, are busy hotels hiving men of business ; 
and here, too, in out-of-the-way nooks, some cramped old inns 
of Dickens' day still keep a connection with foreigners. But 
foreigners, for the most part, notoriously drift to the Soho quarter 
and the purlieus of Leicester Square, where their tastes are 
catered for at many houses of entertainment, including some 
surprisingly cheap restaurants, sought out by British customers 
also, if only to get a relish of Continental ways. It is forty years 
ago that I, vainly taken for a man who knew his " town," was 
trusted to guide certain young Oxford dons to a real French 


dinner in this petty France. To get up an appetite for the choice 
feast, we walked far afield in Surrey ; then as the shades fell, I 
had to betray quite rustic ignorance by leading my friends to a 
very ordinary hotel, where we had a very ordinary dinner at a 
very ordinary price, and felt as much disappointed as the would-be 
fast damsel, who, having screwed up her courage for reading a 
French novel, worked with grammar and dictionary through 
George Sand's La Petite Fadette, to find it not so unlike a tale 
that would pass muster in any Sunday-school. Since then, it 
has become less hole-and-corner work to nose out a foreign dinner 
in or about Soho. 

The present writer, as reviewers modestly style themselves, 
has a confession to make which will show how ill-qualified he still 
is to speak of the many tables spread in central London for his 
iellow-citizens according to their tastes and means. I grew up 
to think it unmanly to make much fuss about eating and drinking, 
nor have I seen cause to change that philosophic opinion. Having 
sometimes found myself in places and circumstances where I was 
glad to get anything wholesome to eat, I can say a perpetual 
grace over the plainest fare, and am apt to be somewhat con- 
temptuous of both gourmands and gourmets, especially when they 
affect turning up their noses at food for which many would be 
thankful. So I am behind the fashion of my time, which the 
most unobservant bystander must note to have grown less greedy, 
but more nice, not only as to the kickshaws of the West-end, but 
as to the sardines and tinned salmon that seem the luxuries of the 
East. One observes, moreover, that restaurants, of the class 
that considers quality rather than quantity, have become more 
showy, more cheerful, and more varied in their fare than they were 
under the consulship of Plancus ; also, that uhe best hotels now 
lay themselves out for tempting rich people to dine away from 
home. It should be observed, with concern, that people who 
have already too much to eat fall into the way of taking another 
meal in the middle of the night, at resorts lying handy to their 
scenes of pleasure ; and it appears that not even Sunday now 
makes a Sabbath truce in the perpetual war upon ennui among 
feasters who would be all the better of fasting once a week on 



domestic cold mutton, as was oftener the practice of their austere 
fathers. But if I say much more on this subject, I may be 
silenced by a hiss and howl from Harley Street. Doctors must 
live, as well as waiters and the shareholders in hotels and res- 
taurants, who are all concerned in encouraging the pecunious 
public to " do itself well." 

Being no good judge of such matters, I have taken counsel with 
a friend versed in the science of gastronomy. He informs me 
that there is not much to choose between the restaurants in vogue 
from f ime to time ; that most of their customers will be well 
content so long as the charges are high enough ; and that, once a 
name is won for luxury and fashion, the snobbish sheep come 
flocking in to fatten beside the " best " society, that so willingly 
exhibits itself in a glow of electric light. Another friend of mine, 
simpler in his tastes, has a humorous tale of how, seeking to 
restore nature on a modest chop or suchlike, he strayed into one 
of those " smart " restaurants, how he opened his eyes at the 
bill of fare, and how he was able to " get out for " a sum which 
may be left to the reader's imagination. 

It would take too long, even if one were able, to describe all 
the eating-houses of London, from its public tables of Lucullus 
to its humblest cocoa-rooms and the suburban " pull-up for car- 
men." The sourest stoic must admit that, in certain depart- 
ments of this province, there has come about a marked improve- 
ment, thanks mainly to foreign influences brought to bear upon 
John Bull's monotonous and wasteful cookery. The stuffy old 
chop-house, in which he was wont to box himself up with his 
heavy meal, is being smartened and ventilated out of all recog- 
nition. Now British firms take a lesson to expand our shabby 
tea-rooms into popular cafes, that want only sunnier skies to 
flourish as on their native boulevards. Another innovation is 
vegetarian restaurants, at least one of which has grown almost 
into fashion within a stone's-throw of Charing Cross. Till lately 
such resorts of a peculiar people resembled rather the Manchester 
" Fruit Parlours " at which David Grieve had his economical 
meals. I can remember what was perhaps the first vegetarian 
eating-place set up in London, by Dr. and Mrs. Nichols, who found 



a wide sale for their booklet How to Live on Sixpence a Day, its 
success rivalled only by a contemporary publication, How to 
make Fowls Pay. That American couple came over here as 
reformers in various lines, which seemed to make rather a tangle 
of their activities : they were missionaries of Catholicism and of 
Spiritualism, as well as of Vegetarianism and other exotic prin- 
ciples. Mrs. Nichols claimed to be the first woman who, in this 
generation, had taken a medical degree ; and she tried to set up 
at Malvern a school for teaching girls some sort of esoteric 
medicine akin to what has since become known under such names 
as Faith Healing and Christian Science ; but I fear this pioneer 
never made such a good thing of her mysteries as did Mrs. Eddy. 
Nor did she succeed as a prophetess, for her familiar saints had 
revealed to her that she was to be the instrument of my conversion 
to Rome, as seems now out of the question, unless ghostly per- 
suasions can avail. 

The Nichols professed to live according to their own precept 
on sixpence a day ; but their guests were well served with the 
obnoxious ox and the pernicious pig, as I can testify, who once 
enjoyed their hospitality, when the lady's first question to me 
was, delivered in a solemn Yankee drawl : " Sir, do you devour 
the corpses of dead animals ?" Though bound to confess that 
bad habit, I asked them to let me share with them their sixpenny 
fare, being never unwilling, once in a way, " to sit a guest with 
Daniel at his pulse." I can report that we had two dainty and 
appetizing meals, the piece de resistance being some preparation 
of crushed wheat, still sold, I believe, as " Dr. Nichols' groats." 
My hosts ate only at ten and three o'clock ; but out of con- 
sideration for British weakness, they sent up to my bedroom 
half a slice of bread, three plums, and a glass of water, to which I 
added an indulgence that displeased the mistress of the house. 
At this time she had lost her eyesight ; but on my appearing 
before her next morning, she rebuked me thus : " I see, sir, or 
rather, another of my senses instructs me, that you use, or, to 
speak more truly, abuse the herb called tobacco. Now, you 
go right away up the hill to the well of the blessed St. Anne, and 
vow to her that you will never smoke again." I went to the 


well, but I made no vows ; and this may be mentioned to show 
that, if critical on other folks' cakes and ale, the reader's humble 
servant is not beyond reproach by more austere philosophers. 

The restaurant started under Dr. Nichols' name was carried 
on in Oxford Street till quite recently, but of late years took to 
propagating the new vegetarianism that makes a special cult of 
nuts and other fare found digestible by our pithecoid ancestors. 
Having strayed off so far into reminiscences, I come back to the 
Strand, passing many theatres, that prompt me to fix the date 
of my first appearance on the stage of London by Sothern's 
Lord Dundreary, as the dramatic sensation of the day. Between 
the acts, I had come out to air what must have been my first 
dress-coat at the portico of his theatre, when, to my surprise and 
confusion, a strolling damsel accosted me — " Well, Charley, how 
do you Ike London ?" To this generation Charley's Aunt 
will be more familiar than Lord Dundreary ; and it is not 
every playgoer of to-day who in Babil and Bijou has heard 
the once popular song, " Spring, Spring, Beautiful Spring," 
that, if I err not, was the work of mine host of the Exeter Hall 
Hotel. One's first coat goes threadbare hardly sooner than 
one's illusions. I wonder if I should now scream with laughter 
at Dundreary's stammering epigrams, or be moved to hum that 
chorus flattering the "loveliest season of the year," whose east 
winds come to make themselves felt by old fogeys as its most 
striking quality. My first disillusioning in stage enchantment 
must have come early, for it was at the time of the Fenian 
troubles, when an Irish actor-manager starred it in one of Dion 
Boucicault's Irish plays, I forget whether The Colleen Bawn or 
Arrah-na-Pogue. In his part as a patriotic hero, he sang " The 
Wearing of the Green " with such effect as to bring tears into 
some eyes of the audience. Soon afterwards I met him at supper, 
where he was asked to sing, and, like Tigellius and other cantores 
of all ages, gave much ado before letting himself be pressed, but 
at last obliged us with that song which current political excite- 
ment made a topical one — 

Sure it's the most distressful country that ever yet was seen 

For they're hanging men and women for the wearing of the green. 


So he sang with all pathetic tenderness, but shocked me by 
adding in a comic aside — " Serve them right, the blackguards !" 
The Orangeman had dropped the actor's mask. 

That reminds me of meeting J. L. Toole at a social gathering 
where he was asked to sing. Without any fagons, he began 
successively three songs, one of them about " The Speaker's 
Eye," which he was then singing every night in his theatre ; 
another " An 'Orrible Tale," which he must have sung thousands 
of times all over the country. But this time he broke down in the 
words of each one, explaining that on the stage he had certain 
points to give him a cue, without which he here stood at a loss. In 
place of a song, then, he volunteered to tell us a story, a somewhat 
" edited " version of which I have more than once seen in print, 
so I will only relate that the heroes of it were himself and Buck- 
stone, and the scene that same portico where I was put to shame 
by being detected as a young man from the country. 

Were it my cue to dwell on dramatic matters, I could wish to 
have better borne in mind the talk of two men in whose company 
I used to sit a generation ago — Jonas Levy of Gray's Inn and 
Kingsgate Castle, known for his collection of theatrical books 
and for his liberality to the Dramatic Benevolent Fund — and 
Thomas Spencer, one of the practical inventors of electro-plating, 
who lived well on towards the end of last century. For one 
keenly interested in the subject — as, to tell the truth, I was not — 
it would be a treat to hear those seniors jogging one another's 
memory to recollections of all the famous plays and players that 
had appeared in London during half a century. What I best 
remember from Mr. Levy's lips is the story of how he embarked 
at Newhaven for the Continent — once, as the lady in the Overland 
Route says when asked if she had ever tried So-and-so's tea — how 
his sufferings were so acute that he used his authority as Vice- 
Chairman of the Brighton line to make the boat put back, and 
how he never again attempted to leave his native shore, though 
any day he might cross the Channel as a distinguished deadhead. 

Of Spencer also I have a tale to tell, that became a legend in the 
club which was the scene of it. He was a Tory of the school of 
Strafford and Laud, as hot on politics as on certain grievances 


he nursed about inventions for which he had failed to secure a 
profitable patent. One day I came into a room in which he had 
been at fierce controversy with a Liberal editor. The disputants 
having reduced one another to fuliginous silence, I felt that a 
moral window should be opened, and cast about for some neutral 
theme likely to relieve the tension. I had just been buying a 
newly-introduced filter which I thought might interest Spencer, 
not aware that this was one of the patents as to which he thought 
himself defrauded. On the mention of that sore subject, the 
legend makes him burst into a torrent of " language " that would 
not be licensed by the Lord Chamberlain : as a matter of fact, he 
simply sat and gasped at me. Another tradition of the club 
represented these two rich men as lighting their pipes one night 
with £1,500 worth of I.O.U. paper from fellow-members, who were 
mostly less fortunate authors, artists, and the like, so among them 
such patrons had a good chance of having their anecdotes 
well received. 

Now, had I listened more dutifully to those reminiscent 
worthies, I might here tickle the reader's attention with matter 
that deserves to appear in print. But, indeed, I have left myself 
little space to speak of that other kind of entertainment, the high 
places of which are thickly set in this quarter. Within a radius 
of half a mile or so, may be counted more than thirty theatres, 
and new ones coming on to swell the list. Would the " good Lord 
Shaftesbury " not turn in his grave if he knew how half-a-dozen of 
them stand side by side in the street named to honour his memory ? 
Old and new, the theatres about Charing Cross reckon themselves 
as the aristocracy of the stage-world, whose voucher gives a play 
the right to go on its travels as a Metropolitan success. But 
while trains and trams fill them from all parts of London, nearly 
every suburban region, too, has now its theatre, some of these 
hardly " minor " in pretensions, and most of them likely to bo 
visited, sooner or later, by whatever piece has pleased a central 
audience. In all, London's theatres are some three-score, com- 
missioned according to our insular want of system. Drury Lane 
and Covent Garden hold letters patent from the Crown, in old 
privilege ; the majority are licensed and controlled by the Lord 


Chamberlain, whose censor has been a thorn in the flesh of certain 
dramatists ; the rest, in outlying parts, stand under the stern eye 
of the County Council. 

The theatrical profession has risen in the world as its standing- 
places have widened. It claims social recognition, aspires to 
titles, and off the stage hides marks of the dyer's hand under the 
best of kid gloves. Its leading gentlemen and ladies draw salaries 
that would astonish a Crummies or a Fotheringay ; some pets of 
the public in their day of popularity may be better paid than a 
Bishop or a Cabinet Minister ; while one fears that the rank and 
file of a troop never wanting ambitious recruits, have often still 
to experience such bouts of poverty as play a part in old novels. 
And as in other professions it is not always the best practitioners 
who get the largest fees, so here also fortune seems not always fair 
in the distribution of motor-cars and diamonds. As for suc- 
cessful dramatists, the chorus of common authors declare them 
scandalously overpaid. We must console ourselves by con- 
sidering how hard it is for them to get themselves put on the 
stage ; and how often, when they hope to bear their blushing 
honours thick upon them, as a once prosperous actor-author has 
it, the very first night " comes a frost, a killing frost." But 
if their fruit do set and ripen to the public taste, it finds such a 
profitable market that more than one playwright of our day is 
credited with an annual income to set Shakespeare up for life. 

The heels of theatres become jibed by innumerable music-halls, 
developed from such humble " Caves of Harmony " and " Back 
Kitchens " as were known to Thackeray's heroes. In these 
spectacular chapels of ease, the service of pleasure is said and 
sung with less formality and restraint, but not with less mise en 
scene ; and the most sumptuous Opera-houses can no longer look 
down on some of those showy rivals. Even as dissenting 
tabernacles now ape the architectural pretensions of the Estab- 
lishment, the Halls have been growing into Variety Theatres, 
whose visitors sit at more freedom, pipe in mouth, if not beaker 
in hand. The chairman, with his refrain of " Give your orders, 
gents !" who once made the mainspring of such entertainments, 
has run down in our time ; and decorum is wound up to a higher 


point as well as decoration. Ladies are not ashamed to be seen 
here, who, if I remember right, visited " Evans's " rather by 
stealth, peeping down from a grating like that of the House of 
Commons Gallery ; and this was only in its latter days, when 
Paddy Green had grown so respectable as to engage cathedral 
choir-boys as a chorus. The moral atmosphere of such places 
must have become less smoky and beery since the days of the 
" barbarous conviviality of the Cider Cellars," and the Judge 
and Jury burlesque where a living caricature of Lord Brougham 
pleaded before an unrevered chief Baron, whose name was 
writ in much gin and water. On the other hand, one suspects 
a decline in the mental tone of such amusements, pitched to the 
low note of intelligence struck in much of our popular literature. 
Music-hall " turns " seem much of a piece with the snippety 
" tit-bits " of a press that strains itself to furnish topical sensa- 
tions and exciting novelties. I could never understand a queer 
kink in the nature of a friend of mine, else a man of austere 
morals and of somewhat priggish manners— R. LP. Among his 
few indulgences was an earnest devotion to music-halls, where he 
took me in a missionary spirit, and when I was moved to yawn 
or smile, he would frown sternly as at one misbehaving in church. 
But most of our fellow-countrymen seem to take this pleasure 
not too sadly nor thoughtfully. And now such temples of the 
illegitimate drama seem eclipsed in popularity and inanity by the 
countless cinema shows that spring up like mushrooms in every 
quarter, dear to artless crowds as " the pictures " far excellence. 
The stage, on one side indeed, affects to take itself very 
seriously. Besides holding the mirror to nature, it sets up a 
pulpit for preaching on social problems, and has lessons of topsy- 
turvy ethics to exhibit as well as Punchinello somersaults. One 
comes across grave revolutionists who frown at such works as 
the Bible and Shakespeare as " anti-social," while they hail a 
new gospel in plays with a purpose, which to greybeard critics 
seem more like a revolt against old commandments. This is not 
the place to judge such pretensions ; but one observes that still, 
in no small proportion of our palaces of pleasure, the main attrac- 
tion is seeing women do what few of the spectators would for the 


world see done by their wives and daughters. In most of us 
there are chords that will thrill to the piping of some " Fifine at 
the Fair " ; and it is a story older than Shakespeare's " round " 
on Bankside that theatres are apt to be closely neighboured by 
houses of less placarded fame. 

Yet vice has been learning here to pay homage to virtue. 
There are said to be still dens of London, where one can sneak in 
to see such shameful sights as are more open in Eastern cities. 
But all the memorizing old fogies are in one tale as to the higher 
standard of propriety which half a century has brought to the 
public amusements of London. The plays of Congreve or 
Wycherley could hardly be put on the stage now, when importa- 
tions from the boulevards have to be much dressed to pass muster 
with what the esprit gaulois sneers at as our prudery. Our lively 
Latin neighbours, too, through the eyes of their most thoughtful 
authors, begin to recognize the modesty of the Teuton as a valu- 
able asset of national life, so we need not be sorry or ashamed 
if our more honest laughter is given to dramatists that durst 
not too openly snigger over the frailties of human nature. 

But that London has still much to learn from both moralists 
and sociologists, may be seen when the seamy side of it is turned 
out into certain central streets, lit by a midnight glare of folly 
and sin. That is called seeing life, where a thoughtful mind sees 
death rather, painted and bedizened to parade a false gaiety 
under the electric lights of civilization. In this quarter of 
entertainment for man, and for the beast in man, British freedom 
allows a scandalous licence to the solicitations of vice, better 
cloaked and masked in some capitals that make less profession 
of decency : thus foreigners are led to exult unduly over a display 
of social evil that at the best is London's shame. Nor is it only 
the forlorn " daughters of joy " who touch an honest heart with 
sadness : beside their flaunting forms go slinking shadows of 
crime and misery. When the theatres and music-halls have put 
out their illumination ; when respectable citizens have gone 
sleepily home from business or pleasure ; when the hotels and 
public-houses have closed their doors, and belated wanderers 
must content themselves for refreshment with coffee-stalls and 



hot -potato cans ; when the poorest guests have huddled up in 
their doss-houses or charitable shelters, there are still many to 
whom London streets offer but stonily cold harbour for pinched 
stomachs and downcast faces — penniless outcasts lurching and 
limping in search of some dark arch to creep under, some shivering- 
place on a bench along the Embankment or in Trafalgar Square, 
perhaps some solitary corner from which to leap into a last bed 
in "the black-flowing river" — 

Anywhere, anywhere 
Out of the world ! 


Charing Cross stood a mile out of old London, when it began 
to stretch its " Liberties " beyond the walls. From Ludgate 
a road, in time bordered by mansions and gardens, ran along the 
Strand of the Thames to the village of Charing, that long made 
a station on the way to the Palace of Westminster, and was no 
doubt well provided with inns, where many a cask of ale would 
be tapped for the attendants of courtiers and suitors, or for stroll- 
ing citizens. By Edward I. a monument was erected at each 
resting-place of his beloved Queen Eleanor's body on its funeral 
procession from Grantham to Westminster, the last of the series 
being at Charing, for which name Chere reine has been fancifully 
suggested as origin ; but it occurs also in Kent. On the border 
of Middlesex, the roadside Eleanor Cross at Waltham stands 
restored by a more reverent generation than those Puritans who 
destroyed Charing Cross as a relic of superstition. The modern 
memorial of the latter has been placed in front of Charing Cross 
Station; but it is believed to have stood where Charles I.'s 
statue now looks down Whitehall towards the scaffold upon which 
he stepped from a window of his palace, and towards the Parlia- 
ment-house that has overlaid his throne. 

This hamlet was bound to grow when taken under the wing 
of royalty. Wolsey's York Place, appropriated by Henry VIII. , 
came to be rebuilt under the name of Whitehall, from which 
Queen Mary could catch sight of Wyatt's straggling band as it 
passed through Charing to attack Ludgate. The noble palace 
designed here by Inigo Jones was never completed ; and 
Charles II.'s seraglio, no longer suburban, Dutch William deserted 
for the more modest Palace of Kensington. Of the magnificence 



of Whitehall, mainly destroyed by accidental fire, nothing is left 
but part of one wing, the Banqueting Hall, a building long used 
as a Chapel Royal, but now as the Museum of the Royal United 
Service Institution, fitly neighboured by the new War Office. 
Across the street, the Horse Guards, where two mailed and booted 
sentinels sit living statues on horseback, to the admiration of 
strangers, seems to have made a gateway of the palace leading 
out to St. James's Park. The Cockpit, used in Pepys' day as a 
theatre, is understood to have been on the present site of the 
Prime Minister's Downing Street residence. The Palladian style 
of the structure is represented in the new Government offices 
that line a great part of Whitehall, and may one day make a 
complete avenue of public palaces between Trafalgar Square and 
the Abbey. 

It is only within the last century that Charing Cross became 
centre of Greater London, the boundary mark between East and 
West. At the date of Nelson's crowning victory, a narrow, 
dirty lane of mean houses led by the Church of St. Martin's, 
that once could be rightly described as " in the fields." 
" Hedge Lane," too, ran north beyond the site of the National 
Gallery, not begun till 1832; and about this time the square 
came to be cleared from unsightly buildings known as the 
King's Mews. The Grand Hotel belongs to the early part of 
our own generation, when Northumberland Avenue was opened 
by the needless demolition of Northumberland House and the 
suburban emigration of that ducal lion that, according to a hoary 
Cockney jest, wagged its tail as often as it heard twelve o'clock 
struck. There are Londoners still alive who remember how this 
fine site was bordered by a truly British jumble of dubiously 
pretentious buildings and very ordinary shops. Till 1830 an 
actual Hay Market was held not far off, now transferred to the 
Cumberland Market beside Regent's Park. Some aged citizens 
may have crossed the Thames by the Hungerford suspension 
bridge, whose second-hand frame went to span the gorge of the 
Avon at Clifton. Not so many memories will go back to the 
days when Charing Cross Station was Hungerford Market, and 
little Charles Dickens worked resentfully at a rat-riddled blacking 


factory on Hungerford Steps, a scene of real life transferred in 
David Copper field to Blackfriars Bridge. Ever since, the area 
about Charing Cross has been undergoing a transformation, not 
yet complete. Only the other day was an opening made from 
the Square into the Mall, giving a vista towards Buckingham 
Palace. Now the ribboned recruiting sergeants will be going off 
their post at the corner of St. Martin's Lane, since the barracks 
behind are destined to swell the cadres of the National Gallery. 

Were Dickens alive to-day, he might tell us how the Tourist 
and Exchange Offices about this international rendezvous were 
humbly prefigured by a starting-point of coaches at the " Golden 
Cross," as, indeed, we know from the adventures of Mr. Pickwick. 
But not yet has the counsel of perfection taken form by which 
Charing Cross was to be a great central railway station, knotting 
together all the lines that come into London. Even Paris, that 
loves system and centralization as we do not, was fain to scatter 
her terminuses far apart in the suburbs. Surely it is time to 
banish the pedantry of termini, as to grant full right of naturaliza- 
tion to the vernacular 'bus, that reached us through France, as 
did cab, cabriolet, long ago shorn of its outlandish trappings. 
Did we not take from Italy an idea for the catacomb lines that 
now act as motor nerves to this ganglion of London communica- 
tions ? The name of the Underground Railway, at least, came 
from over the Atlantic as one of those jocular metaphors our 
cousins are so quick to coin. In very early days of railroad 
enterprise sprang up a philanthropic secret society for helping 
runaway slaves, and Levi Coffin got the nickname of its 
" President," when some baffled slave hunter is said to have 
declared that there must be an underground railroad to Canada 
from that sly Quaker's house, as his pursuers could never hit on 
further trace of any fugitive who gained it. 

How did Londoners get on without their " Underground," 
which began to break out through the streets as London became 
familiar to me ? This convenience is supplied by two companies, 
the Metropolitan and the Metropolitan District, the one, as some 
of us know too well, paying but a small dividend, while the other, 
I understand, has returned to its shareholders only the conscious- 


ness of being public benefactors, execrated if ever they try to 
raise the fares on some vain excuse of carrying passengers at a 
loss. Roughly speaking, the Metropolitan takes the north side of 
the system, the District's domain being on the south, both of 
them with long feelers into northern, western, and eastern 
suburbs. Their rails are linked at Kensington and at Aldgate 
to form the Inner Circle, a joint main line, on which frequent 
trains run round and round in either direction. The fact of two 
companies being concerned should make one wary which way one 
turns, as each may be more concerned to carry the traveller on 
its own metals than on the shortest segment of the circle. I have 
known country cousins who, living at Brompton and desiring 
to reach Kensington, innocently took an almost complete round 
under London to reach a point not a mile off. One hard winter, 
it was told how a tramp spent his last penny on a short-stage 
ticket, then passed the rest of the day in that snug roundabout. 
But only very cold and impecunious travellers welcomed the 
Stygian atmosphere of the Underground in its days of steam 
traction, when the northern stretch, from Edgware Road to 
King's Cross, had a specially foul reputation, and one drew a 
breath of relief on coming into the open-air reaches, where, also, 
the trains are gloomily walled out from all brighter prospects 
than a show of mendacious advertisements. In one such gap 
near Gloucester Road Station, a moving scene was once enacted, 
when marriages still had to be performed before noon. A block 
in the line had held up a train containing a bridegroom in gallant 
array. As twelve o'clock drew near, anxiety made him bold. 
Amid the cheers of his fellow-passengers, and the secret sympathy 
of protesting officials, he and his friends stormed the glacis to 
rush, begrimed and bleeding, to the altar at which a distressed 
bride awaited them. 

The use of electricity has now purged the Underground 
caverns ; and the suburban branches run mainly in the open air. 
Within the last few years the Circle has been ramified and trans- 
sected by deeper tunnels popularly called Tubes, which at many 
points are brought into touch with it by means of lifts and 
subways, sometimes so long that in all weathers one can here get 


a considerable amount of exercise under cover, and in atmosphere 
kept bright and clean by electrical apparatus, when fog or rain 
oppresses the upper world. New York, jealous of our " rapid 
transit," tried to go one better by its spidery Elevated Railway ; 
but then took to burrowing underground after the mole model 
of London. Our first Tube was from Clapham to the City, 
which for some time remained alone in its fuliginous glory. 
Then came the more renowned "Twopenny Tube," straight 
through the centre of London, so called because at first it was 
found possible to simplify the ticket system : one had the new 
experience of paying twopence for any distance, passing through 
a turnstile, descending by a lift, to be bustled into a long car, 
whisked through a longer hole and again lifted up into the open 
air. Now, several of these Tubes, the longest of them stretching 
from Hammersmith to Finsbury Park, are connected at several 
points ; and through bookings between them have brought back 
the old ticket encumbrance. One can thus travel comfortably 
from almost any part of London to another for a few pence. 

All these fresh aids to locomotion seem to call forth as well 
as to supply a want, for at certain times of the day they will 
be found inconveniently crowded. On the District Railway, of 
a foggy evening, one must expect to travel in a mass of human 
beings literally packed like sardines ; and we old fogies at all 
times may think ourselves lucky to get a seat, where the young 
and lively press in before us as to a pool of Bethesda. One has 
seen a Judge on his way to court standing buttressed by fellow- 
swayers, while the bailed criminal he was to try might be sitting 
comfortably, for the nonce, in the same car. From America has 
been imported the art of strap-hanging, not to be done gracefully 
by all amateurs ; and a point of manners arises which is said 
to have become rather honoured in the breach across the Atlantic. 
Courteous youth will take pleasure in giving up his seat to a 
lady ; but one has also known a strapping damsel make place for 
a tottering greybeard. Some little time ago, I saw a scene in 
the Underground that was quite fin de siecle. A lady with a child 
pushed her way into a crowded carriage, to whom a tired-looking 
City gentleman, since so it must be, gave up his seat. She 


thanked him, made the child sit down, and stood waiting till 
someone else rose up for herself, as did not I. Young John Bull 
used to be taught more modest manners ; but from Brother 
Jonathan he can learn how youth is the age of honour as well as 
hope, after which hoary old age must expect at the best to take 
a back seat. Another symptom of Americanization is the hustle 
and flurry of these impatient trains that have gone to cut short 
the lives of many weak-hearted citizens, in danger of being 
knocked off their legs by dashing youngsters. Hindoos who 
spread their bedding on the station platform below the unheeded 
time-table ; Andean Indians who may have to wait a week for 
the next train ; Spaniards, whose favourite time for setting out 
is mafiana, might all be the better of this smartening discipline, 
but we should seem already quite enough versed in the text 
" Time is money.'' Sharp Yankee critics, however, find fault 
that at every stop one or two seconds are wasted by Mr. Bull's 
inveterate want of spryness, the blame rather to be laid on Mrs. 
Bull's headlong eagerness to get into a carriage before other 
people have got out of it. 

Trams are claimed as of Transatlantic invention ; and the 
American G. F. Train lent his name to small jokes when he made 
a fiasco of introducing them into England, his street rails being 
indicted as a nuisance. But the first tramway on record was 
laid long before in Derbyshire, by one Benjamin Outram, who 
is said to have stood godfather to the name, but if so, only 
in the way of jest, as tram is a good old English word. 
Early in last century, a tram-line was laid from Wandsworth 
to Croydon and beyond, like the first railways, for freight 
rather than passengers ; and in some parts of the country, on 
the edge of Monmouth and Hereford, for instance, may be seen 
traces of abandoned rails, remembered as in working only by the 
oldest inhabitant. I suppose that the doyen of our tram-lines 
in being is that from Swansea to the Mumbles, which has developed 
into a roadside steam- railway. 

It must be admitted that our towns were slow to take up this 
device, denounced by the owners of free vehicles and by British 
Conservatism in general. They sprang up in the suburbs about 


a generation back, and since then have gone far. Whatever 
we think of the principle of Municipal Trading, we must admire 
the improvement shown in the L.C.C.'s Electric Trams, hampered 
as they have been by variety of system and ownership. Some 
of these lines now run out for a dozen miles and more, ploughing 
up the country into fresh furrows along which London sows itself 
apace, as for instance, on the Edgware or the Uxbridge roads, 
that will soon be each one line of houses, broken by golf grounds 
and withering patches of market-garden. Still, in this matter 
London seems behind Lancashire, where a blotched pattern of 
towns is woven together by leagues of reticulated tram-lines ; 
while Uncle Sam, it is claimed, can now travel all the way from 
New York to Chicago on trolly-cars, in which, let us hope, he 
may sometimes get a seat. Electricity, either supplied by over- 
head wires, or by more expensive underground conduits, goes 
on everywhere supplanting other traction, except in the City 
of Edinburgh, which sacrifices to its amenities by an inconvenient 
cable-system imported from the steep streets of San Francisco, 
so as not to shock the tourist eye, while to the stranger's ear the 
underground machinery keeps up a disquieting rattle through 
which the car steals upon him like a thief in the night. London's 
last bit of cable-line has lately been supplanted on Highgate 

Trams are not yet suffered in the centre of London, though 
now they have forced their way across Westminster and Black- 
friars Bridges, in vain defended by the House of Lords ; and they 
have even stolen in a subterranean manner from the Embank- 
ment to Clerkenwell. Charing Cross is a noted haven of their 
rivals the motor- 'buses, that make long cruises through the length 
and breadth of London, from Epping Forest to the Elephant 
and Castle, and from Shepherd's Bush to Ilford in Essex. For 
a time it seemed as if these privateers would beat off the tram- 
ways ; but the latter have had the advantage of municipal support 
and ownership. Cursed by householders whose quiet they shook, 
worried by the police, cutting one another's throats by competi- 
tion, constantly brought to a stand by the breaking down of novel 
machinery, themselves often the cause of accidents in their wild 



career, the motor-cars might sometimes fall away from their 
" first fine careless rapture." Several lines, after indulging a 
district with the luxury of rapid conveyance, abandoned this or 
that field to try pastures new. Whole fleets of earlier rigs, already 
prehistoric, have come to be laid up in limbo. Other vessels of 
the kind ventured forth only in summer, upon holiday trips, 
but shunned the fogs and slippery streets of winter. In general, 
however, these heavy craft have borne down opposition, as our 
" tanks/' which might be christened Assommoirs, overrode 
German defences on the Somme. A family from Peru once took 
lodgings in Brompton, where, on the first passing of a 'bus, they 
all rushed into the street under the impression that it was an 
earthquake. They might have had more excuse had their visit 
fallen in the days when citizens like the late Sir Theodore Martin 
came to be shaken out of domestic equanimity. Another griev- 
ance against 'buses is that, free of the streets, they compete un- 
fairly with suburban rails liable to rent and rates. 

Half a generation ago a journalist from America, who is under- 
stood to have an interest in the sale of motors, made himself 
horns of iron, and prophesied that by now no horse would be 
seen in the streets of London. That millennium seems still to be 
prayed for, the horse dying hard as the dodo. For a time the 
old scotched 'bus kept popping out alive and kicking, when the 
motor hid itself like the fine weather goody in a cottage barom- 
eter. Then, scared away by the machine, the horse-drawn 
vehicle had to eat its head off, or to slink along less beaten routes, 
on which it might glean wisps of custom; but only a ghost of it, 
in the form of railway omnibuses, now haunts our busy thorough- 
fares. Those tortoises, now beaten in the race, were distinguished 
by their different colours, as the hares, in a general livery of red, 
have their routes marked rather by numbers. 

Motor 'buses, it must be remembered, are no new thing, for 
some of the earliest public carriages through London were worked 
by steam till, after frequent breaking down, they came into 
collision with the law. As already mentioned, the idea of an 
omnibus came from France, where it is said to have been born 
in so illustrious a head as Blaise Pascal's. The first London 


'buses, in the Reform Bill period,* were run by one Shillibeer, 
who narrowly missed leaving his name on these conveyances, 
as Hansom, with less claim to immortality, did on the cabs 
improved out of his model. But Shillibeer had the bad luck of 
public benefactors : ruined by keen opposition, by oppressive 
taxes, and by the dishonesty of his conductors, he restored his 
fortunes as an undertaker, the name Shillibeer being transferred 
to funeral coaches, that gave it a sinister sound, as a hearse has 
lent itself to a grim play of words. " Fortuna favet fortibus /" 
sighed the doctor at a funeral, to be corrected by the parson : 
" Don't you mean the next example : Mors est communis 
omnibus . ? " The name Mobus, which has been suggested for 
our new vehicles, appears not to " catch on," as at once did 
the handy abbreviation " Bakerloo." One title in what might 
have come to be the " shilly " business, has died out ; the omnibus 
conductor was originally a " cad," that degenerate scion of 
cadet that multiplies in other fields as a " caddie." 

These vehicles follow the tendency of the times in now being 
mainly under control of one large company, formed by alliance 
of two great fleets of 'buses that navigated the streets of London, 
besides smaller squadrons, and the ruthless " pirates " which 
sought to steer clear of the law in their petty exactions. The 
London General Company long reigned paramount, its once profit- 
able shares held largely in Paris, so that when the Road Cars en- 
tered the field of competition they distinguished themselves by 
flying a Union Jack as appeal to British patriotism and patronage. 
The Road Car Company deserved well of the public that owed to 
it the improved omnibus, on which no rheumatic gentleman is 
now asked to go outside to oblige a lady. Time was when only 
a very " advanced " woman would venture herself outside a 'bus ; 
and, indeed, in former days to ride inside one was not the correct 
thing for a lady : we remember Mr. Wagg's and Mr. Wenham's 
scorn when the strong-minded Miss Bunion came to the Bungays' 
dinner-party with a tell-tale straw hanging about her dress. 
Nous avons change tout cela ; and now in fair weather, the pushing, 

* So all chroniclers agree, except G. A. Sala, who points out an apparent 
omnibus as figured in a print nearly twenty years earlier. 


in which women are by no means backward, is to get a seat on 
the top. No longer are we familiar with the old knifeboard 
omnibus that made the Londoner's gymnasium, as its box was 
his school of Cockney wit. Such stranded arks may be seen 
serving as pavilions and grand-stands to remote athletic grounds ; 
or here and there one still visits the glimpses of the gas-lamps in 
backwaters of suburban travel, where the streets throw out 
'buses like tentacles to drag in their prey from the country. The 
horse, as yet, has been by no means electrocuted. Eegardez 
plutot the revival of coaching, for pleasure if not for business. 
Near Charing Cross start smartly turned out teams, sometimes 
driven by American gentlemen, to give our visitors a holiday 
taste of De Quincey's emotions on a mail-coach. 

Before the coming of the motor, nearly seven hundred omni- 
buses were counted as passing Charing Cross in an hour. Now 
that the horse-drawn 'bus is out of the running, let us see how 
it struck a stranger, Mr. W. D. Howells, to wit, in his London 

Except for the few slow stages that lumber up and down Fifth 
Avenue, we have hardly anything of the omnibus kind in the whole 
length and breadth of our continent, and it is with perpetual astonish- 
ment and amusement that o:.j finds it still prevailing in London, 
quite as if it were not as gross an anachronism as the war-chariot or 
the sedan-chair. It is ugly, and bewilderingly painted over with the 
names of its destinations, and clad with signs of patent medicines and 
new plays and breakfast foods in every colour but the colours of the 
rainbow. It is ponderous, and it rumbles forward with a sound of 
thunder, and the motion of a steamer when they put the table-racks 
on. Seen from the pavement or from the top of another omnibus, it 
is of barbaric majesty ; not, indeed, in the single example, but as part 
of the interminable line of omnibuses coming towards you. Then 
its clumsiness is lost in the collective uncouthness which becomes of a 
tremendous grandeur. The procession bears onward whole popula- 
tions lifted high in the air, and swaying and lurching with the elephan- 
tine gait of things which can no more capsize than they can keep an 
even pace. Of all the sights of London streets this procession of the 
omnibuses is the most impressive, and the common herd of Londoners 
of both sexes which it bears aloft seems to suffer a change into some- 
thing almost as rich as strange. They are no longer ordinary or less 
than ordinary men and women bent on the shabby businesses that 


preoccupy the most of us ; they are conquering princes, making a 
progress in a long triumph, and looking down upon a lower order of 
human beings from their wobbling steeps. It enhances their apparent 
dignity that they whom they look down upon are not merely the drivers 
of trucks and waggons of low degree, but often ladies of title in their 
family carriages, under the care of the august family coachman and 
footman, or gentlemen driving in their own traps or carts, or fares 
in the hansoms that steal their swift course through and by these 
ranks ; the omnibuses are always the most monumental fact of the 
scene. They dominate it in bulk and height ; they form the chief 
impulse of the tremendous movement, and it is they that choke from 
time to time the channel of the mighty torrent, and helplessly hold it 
in the arrest of a block. 

Most notable is the way in which horses allow themselves to 
fall into the orderly spirit of all this press of London traffic. 
A familiar spectacle, much patronized by street-boys, is a cab- 
horse helplessly fallen, till someone sits on its head, and other 
volunteers are ready with deft hands to release it from its harness. 
In London, slippery streets and worn-out legs often cause such a 
downfall, which you shall see a hundred times for once that you 
have to fly before a runaway vehicle. A friend of mine who 
brought a pair of skittish horses from the country, tells me that 
from the first they adapted themselves to their new environment, 
going quietly along past all sorts of novel sights and sounds, 
whereas on rustic roads a railway whistle or a donkey's bray would 
be enough to set their ears in agitation. Perhaps the fact of 
seeing so many other horses about them, taking all the din easy, 
goes to compose their equine minds. Another explanation was 
offered me by a discreet citizen beside whom I travelled on the 
top of a 'bus some generation or so ago, when cycles were not yet 
such common objects of the wayside : a procession of these then 
tall wheels, bearing lights, flitted ghostlike past our steady vehicle, 
when I, fresh from experiences of a provincial Bucephalus, 
admired that the 'bus horses took not the least notice of them. 
" The fact is," growled my chance acquaintance, " it is the same 
with the horses in London as with the people : they have too much 
to do to mind anything but their own business." It must take 
some equanimity in a horse to let itself be drawn patiently aside, 
as a yelling, clanging, and glaring fire-engine careers among the 


traffic, where the way is cleared for it with such wonderful 
readiness. But one has seen even Cockney cab-horses discomposed 
when, at the dead of night, they came to face one of those rattling 
and panting trains to which passage has now been given through 
our streets. 

Cabs came into London rather before omnibuses, racing off 
their course the shabby two-horsed hackney coaches that date 
back to Stuart times, when their first public stand in London, 
1634, is said to have been at the Maypole in the Strand. One 
fears, or hopes, that the cab-lK rse is on the way to be turned out 
to grass, its place taken by machinery, till the day come when 
one can call a balloon or an aeroplane from its stand in Piccadilly. 
The motor-cabs, popularly called taxis, which a few years ago 
came as single spies, are now among us in battalions, charging 
through the central streets at a pace that gives a new terror to 
crowded crossings. The dashing hansom, " gondola of London," 
seems like to sink in the collision with these ironclads ; while 
the four-wheeled " growler " keeps afloat only by favour of nervous 
old ladies, and family parties with piles of luggage. For assurance 
of the public, these slow vehicles are now invited to equip them- 
selves with the automatic register of distance, which is compulsory 
on the motor-cabs ; though, if all stories are true, even such 
mechanical reckonings become infected by the notorious dis- 
honesty bred about horse-flesh. 

So hard hit have the horse-cabs found themselves, that 
many of them are now fain to accept the once despised sixpence 
a mile. For a falling-off in their fares, cabmen have their own 
stupidity to thank as well as the spread of tubes and 'buses. 
Their idea of business seems to be spells of idleness broken by 
good, fat, easy jobs at not too frequent intervals ; and they fail 
to catch the principle of small profits and quick returns, forgetting 
how many might-be patrons will not take a cab for a short distance 
in view of probable unpleasantness about the legal fare. As 
some excuse for " leaving it to you, sir," London cabmen may 
well complain of the complicated and rather inconsiderate 
regulations under which they are tempted to impose on their 
customers. A Parisian cocker, who earns extra payment at night, 


cannot then be forced to leave his own quarter, denoted by the 
lamp on his vehicle, whereas the London jarvey may at any hour 
be taken for his bare fare to the wildest outskirts of the radius 
area — four miles round Charing Cross — where he has small 
chance of another job, which might divert him miles farther 
from home. 

The radius system is an absurd one : you may take a cab to 
Camberwell or Bethnal Green for sixpence a mile ; but on the 
genteel edge of Kensington, from High Street to Hammersmith 
station, the fare comes to two shillings for little over a mile. 
When the White City Exhibition rose like an exhalation upon 
a stretch of ignored rubbish-heaps behind Shepherd's Bush Green, 
it was discovered that the entrance stood a few yards beyond the 
radius, to the profit of the old-fashioned Jehu, while the taxi- 
cabs are so far under police control, that for them the authorities 
could " make it so " in correction of an original mistake as to the 
precise distance. Anyone who has lived close to the radius, 
can speak of the demoralization it works on suburban cabmen, 
always on the lookout for a job outwards for which they get 
double fare, but apt to be " engaged " if the sixpenny area come 
in question. In the central parts, they learn to be more accom- 
modating, but everywhere the fare becomes often fixed by a 
compromise between the conscience of one and the open-handed- 
ness of the other party. The worst of it is that, when the 
passenger remembers how the letter of the law may make a tight 
fit for the driver, the latter is very ready to take a bonus as sign 
not of bounty, but of innocence, and to grow extortionate in 
proportion to his customer's generosity. The stranger should 
know that in any case of dispute, he has a right to be driven to 
the nearest police-office or police-court, where the matter will be 
settled ; and the mere hint of this procedure is usually enough to 
silence an unreasonable demand, if not to smooth a sulky look. 
Miss Tox, we remember, in sending for a cab, always had the 
man told that the fare was a shilling, and the lady's uncle a 

Our cabmen might comix as angels of conscientious modera- 
tion beside, for instance, their confratelli of Naples, where the 


ex-brigands now seek congenial employment as drivers and 
railway porters. Egyptian donkey-boys are hard to beat for 
impudent extortion. But the most shameless wallahs, in my 
experience, are those who handle the reins in India, where their 
gentle beggary has to be repressed by the high-handed curtness 
of the sahib. I once took a carriage to a railway station in a 
certain native state, and after having been carried through the 
narrow streets at a break-neck pace, stirred up in my honour, 
I felt bound to make the driver's face to shine with special bounty, 
so I gave him enough to live on for a week, with the result that 
all the rest of the day, he had nothing better to do than encamp 
outside of the station, sending in petitions for more. There is 
a story of a visitor to some South American capital, who was 
petrified by a cab-fare demanded in hundreds of dollars ; but 
this turned out no such ruinous charge when reduced to a metallic 
standard from the republic's paper currency. 

Foreigners, it is to be feared, are all the world over looked on 
as fair game by the vulgar. A Belgian visitor told me how, taking 
a cab from Fleet Street to the Docks, he inquired the fare before- 
hand, which was stated at twelve shillings, " and it was usual to 
give the driver something to drink halfway." Our drivers, 
indeed, are not averse to so translating the pourboire custom of 
the Continent. But sometimes the supposed stranger turns out 
a Tartar, as when once from an early train at Ludgate Hill a fur- 
coated gentleman desired to be driven to the Daily Telegraph 
Office, some hundred yards or two as the crow flies. This was, 
in fact, G. A. Sala, but the cabman, taking him for a distinguished 
foreigner, treated him to a long and leisurely round, up Farringdon 
Road to Pentonville, along the Euston Road to Paddington, down 
Park Lane to Piccadilly, and so at last by Charing Cross to Fleet 
Street. Sala, whose most pressing business at the office was to 
get a nap, made no objection, but took his sleep out in the cab, 
then, on arriving, handed the man his legal shilling with the 
remark, " You funny fellow !" One takes the story to be 
apocryphal of Bishop Temple's giving a cabman eighteenpence 
for a ride to Fulham Palace, and on being satirically questioned 
as to St. Paul's probable conduct under like circumstances, 



replying, " St. Paul would have been at Lambeth, and the fare 
would be only a shilling !" A very unapostolic resident in that 
suburban neighbourhood, the late Mr. Swinburne, was credited 
with a most prosaic closeness of reckoning as to cab-fares, and 
also with a command of lurid language to strike the most abusive 
Jehu dumb. 

From the multifarious vehicles whose endless roar and rattle 
are drowned in this whirlpool, let us turn our attention to the 
currents and eddies of foot-passengers or loungers that swell the 
moving flood, from idle boys dabbling on the edge of the foun- 
tains, to open-eyed visitors from all ends of the earth, drawn here 
on business or pleasure. About Charing Cross, an ex-President, 
or a reformed King of Cannibal Islands, may any day be found 
rubbing shoulders with our own notabilities, hardly noticed in 
the throng. I have seen Disraeli tottering over this pavement, 
like a dressed-up skeleton, with lack-lustre eye and chalky face ; 
and about the same time I encountered Gladstone hurrying 
alertly through a side-street, his coat-tails flying in the wind. 
A curious experience comes to my mind. Lunching at a club 
beside Trafalgar Square, I spoke with my host of three persons, 
one of them for the moment much before the public eye. On 
going out, within two or three hundred yards of Charing Cross, 
I met all those three persons, drawn from different classes and 
quarters, among a population of millions. What were the odds 
against the long arm of coincidence gathering such a chance 
handful, even at the heart of London's whirlpool ? 

Of the varied crowd swirling round Charing Cross, how many 
Britons stop to consider what place this familiar area holds in 
the world ? Trafalgar Square is the centre of London, that is 
the heart of England and contains within its boundaries the 
meridian from which we measure the world. Still closer at hand, 
in Downing Street and Whitehall, throbs the administrative pulse 
of an Empire on which the sun is understood never to set. Some 
modern geographers have shown cause to take this island as in a 
sense the centre of the earth. Older philosophers were clear 
about our globe being the physical pivot of the solar system, as 
morally it still is for us ; and a contemporary pundit of science 



has gravely maintained that this petty star of ours should rank 
in the centre of the material universe. These things being so, it 
seems not doubtful that the Nelson Column stands out the visible 
hub of creation, even if the Bunker's Hill monument at Boston 
be allowed as its antipodes. Many years ago I visited Bunker's 
Hill with no less a cicerone than Oliver Wendell Holmes, to whom 
in complaisant ignorance I posed as a humbled enemy, forgetting 
that this was, in fact, scene of a British victory, and that Brother 
Jonathan had here no more to be proud of than making a good 
stand against the red-coats. A British defeat might be taken as 
a mere spangle to history, a passing bubble on the smooth course 
of events, when British victories seemed so much matter of course 
that one suspects the hysterical fervour with which this genera- 
tion piles wreaths about the memorials of its heroes. Perhaps 
foreigners are less enthusiastic in looking up to Nelson, high 
perched above his lions, even though not a few of them owed to 
Trafalgar more than they know. In this connection I recall a 
polite fellow-traveller in France, who, having occasion to speak 
of an English disaster in battles long ago, made haste to show 
me in what direction lay, many leagues off, one of those famous 
fields on which we are better able to echo Napoleon's " Ca toujour s 
finit de meme /" In the same spirit, William Black's courteous 
Highlander would not wear his tartan trousers before a young 
lady from France, for fear of stirring painful memories of Water- 
loo. The stolid Saxon is apt to be less considerate, and more 
blatant in his patriotism, like that old Scotswoman making light 
of the fact that our enemies, too, offered up prayers for victory : 
" Puir bodies ! but wha could understand them ?" 

With respect, or otherwise, the trophies of our national pride 
are here surveyed by strangers born under all flags of the earth. 
Parthians and Medes and Elamites may at every hour of the day 
be found in Trafalgar Square, along with the pig-tailed China- 
man, the negro, unheeded even by street-boys, the Red Indian 
stolidly dissembling his amazement, the mild Hindoo jostling 
sahibs with a new-found strut, the almond-eyed Japanese Jack 
on shore knocking up against a burly Russian tar, the Egyptian 
wondering at monuments where no one pesters him for bakshish, 



# ■' 


the Italian sighing for the sun of dolce far niente, the Alpine moun- 
taineer lost in admiration of so many tall chimney-pots, the 
Parisian twirling a critical moustache, the German professor 
studiously conferring with his Baedeker, and, conspicuous among 
the throng, the frequent figure of Uncle Sam, one eye cocked in 
complacent comparison with his own sky-scraping Babels, the 
other moistened by sentiment for the old home of his race. 

Apart from its magnetic character, in Trafalgar Square more 
foreigners are likely to turn up than in other parts of London, 
since close at hand, about Soho and Leicester Square, is the head- 
quarters of our Continental colony. I take this to be a some- 
what recent settlement, though that cosmopolitan scoundrel 
Casanova, when he favoured London with a visit, sought his first 
lodging in Soho. In the great emigration of the French Revolu- 
tion, Thaddeus of Warsaw is the only exile I recall as having a 
garret in this vicinity. Chateaubriand, when he lived in London 
as Minister of France, could revisit his attic home in the New 
Road, looking out on the churchyard of Marylebone. The 
Manchester Square neighbourhood, it appears, became a sort of 
Faubourg St. Germain in partibus for the more distinguished 
exiles, so long as the funds lasted which they might have been 
able to smuggle out of France. The Count d'Artois, as head of 
this society, held his court in Baker Street, which contends with 
another for the honour of having been Tennyson's " long, un- 
lovely street." Some lucky refugees were able to tenant villas 
at Richmond or Hampstead ; and one notable colony made a 
co-operative household at Juniper Hill, near Leatherhead. But 
the poorer exiles had to be content with humbler lodgings, con- 
gregating thickly abou + the then raw suburb of Somers Town, 
and round old St. Pancras Church, where many of them would 
lie, never again to see that sunny land on which their mind's 
eye was always fixed through the fogs of exile and the storms of 
revolution. When this graveyard came to be broken up by the 
Midland Railway, thick layers of coffins were taken out for 
reburial ; and one of our best-known novelists could, if he would, 
tell a grim tale of his own experience in superintending that 
resurrection work, now recorded by a conspicuous memorial to 


the disturbed dead, towering above clumps of idle tombstones 
for almost obliterated names. 

That must have made a strange leaven, fermenting with hopes 
and fears, in the midst of London. Gently-born men and women, 
with no habit of earning a livelihood, found themselves at once 
thrown on their own resources, and had to make a gallant shift 
at self-support by the accomplishments of happier days. Many 
became teachers of French, of music, of fencing, of drawing, of 
dancing. Some found a home as tutors and governesses. Others, 
like our Sedleys and Micawbers, turned their attention to coals, 
or more naturally to wine. One nobleman set up as a tailor ; 
another stooped to shoemaking ; a Countess opened a shop for 
the sale of ices and other dainties ; an accomplished gourmet 
exercised his skill as a salad-dresser for parties. Ladies turned 
their hands to embroidery, to flower-painting, and to dressing 
dolls. In some cases faithful servants started restaurants, from 
which they fed their ex-masters. Young folks were put upon 
making straw hats, which found a ready sale, when it was the 
fashion among our aristocracy to assist and patronize the loyal 
emigres. A West-end concert, got up for their benefit, is said 
to have realized the sum of sixteen thousand guineas. Some of 
them had the good fortune to marry English heiresses, as at 
Juniper Hall General d'Arblay won the heart of Fanny Burney, 
whose pen kept them both, while his sword had to lie idle. For 
the utterly destitute, there was a Government allowance of a 
shilling a day. Chateaubriand, for one, seems to have managed 
to make money as an author ; and he had a friend who lived not 
so ill on the proceeds of a French journal printed in London, 
where the Abbe Delille was head of a small literary colony. 
Newspapers would be eagerly read by exiles who any day might 
thus learn of husband, wife, or child brought to that devouring 
guillotine that for a time was in vogue at Paris. 

From memoirs like Chateaubriand's and Vicomte Walsh's, we 
know in what a gay spirit such unfortunates met their adversity. 
But there were frowns among them, too, and heartburnings 
between fellow-sufferers, for the first flight of exalted devotees 
to the throne looked askance upon the Constitutional Royalists, 



Girondins, and other Moderates, who had to follow their example 
when reform grew to a revolution terrorizing its own children. 
It was all the Count d'Artois could do to gain a show of civil 
toleration for the sons of the detested Philippe Egalite. Priests 
and philosophes had mutual reproaches to exchange. Some of 
the exiles had served in arms against each other ; yet we find 
them all half -disposed to join in sly exultation over French vic- 
tories that seemed like to adjourn the hour of their return. 
There were defeats, too, to mourn ; and we hear of a ball being 
put off at news of a French fleet's disaster which illuminated 
the rest of London. It is amusing to note how complacently the 
poorest French people took their superior qualities for granted, 
pluming themselves as missionaries of dress, deportment, taste, 
and elegance, and of course orthodox religion, to pagan John 
Bull. " The English," Walsh tells us, " who spend so much 
money to live on spleen and tea, often looked with envy on our 
French society, where we were able to enliven our days and 
evenings." The same writer quotes Burke as declaring that 
Britons, driven from home under similar circumstances, would 
have been ready to commit suicide. 

One wonders how many of these impecunious strangers spent 
their spare hours in learning our language. Among later flights 
of political refugees who have elbowed one another on a hospit- 
able soil, it is matter of common remark how the German loses 
no time in acquiring English, sometimes to the point of lecturing 
us on it, while the Frenchman may spend years among us with- 
out troubling himself to master un traitre mot. I once had a 
private view of the tragedy of such an exile, when I lodged in 
the same house with a certain Count X., a political refugee of the 
Second Empire. He and his wife occupied the drawing-room 
floor, giving themselves airs of rank and fashion, but, I fear, 
paying our landlady only in coin of compliments and flattery. 
They professed to despise our cuisine bourgeoise, so went out to 
take their meals " at restaurants," which impressed the hostess 
as a mark of superiority, till it transpired that those diners en 
ville might be translated as a morsel of bread and a bundle of 
sprats. Since " French of Paris was to her unknow," and her 


foreign lodger was equally unilingual, I served to some extent as 
interpreter between them, and soon guessed that the unfortunate 
couple were actually starving, as they would not confess for a 
time. Presently they decamped, leaving in pawn for their un- 
paid bill nothing but a very ill-tempered monkey, which would 
have tried the temper even of a mont de piete. 

For many years I heard no more of that chance acquaintance, 
and had quite forgotten him, when one evening, in a street off 
St. James's Square, I met a distinguished-looking gentleman, well 
dressed, and apparently as much at ease as any of those bloated 
aristocrats that suck the blood of the people. My first impres- 
sion was of the late Duke of Cambridge, to whom he had a super- 
ficial resemblance. To my surprise, he stopped me, speaking in 
French, nor was I less surprised when I found him simply begging 
in most courteous style. As politely as my blunt British manners 
would allow, I referred him to a charitable agency of his own 
countrymen, and passed on, much puzzled what to make of him. 
His voice seemed familiar to me, though not his looks ; then, a 
few minutes later, there flashed into my recollection the per- 
sonality of Count X. Since our last meeting his face had been 
disguised in white hair, and by the gas-lamp he would not recog- 
nize me, whom he addressed as a stranger. How had he been 
living all these years ? 

I never saw or heard of him again. But I have not yet touched 
the point of my instructive anecdote. On coming out of St. 
James's Square, I had been accosted by a beggar of commoner 
mould, a woman with a decoy child in arms, who, after a whine 
or two, gave me up as a bad job. I turned round to see how she 
would treat that portly gentleman in the Inverness cape and 
white silk muffler, who presented himself as a more promising 
subject for her art. Sure enough, so long as I could keep him in 
sight, she was following him round the Square, not aware that 
they were two of a trade that here spent its skill in vain. 

Now, if any sentimental reader denounce me as hard-hearted 
for turning a cold face to the outstretched hand, let me tell him 
that when I was younger and more innocent, also with more 
time on my hands, I never met a street-beggar without listening 


to his appeal, going into it, often at some trouble, and being 
prepared to help in any deserving case. I never once hit upon 
a case that bore examination as deserving, though often led on 
far by glib and plausible stories that excited my professional 
admiration by artistic touches of fiction. The Charity Organ- 
ization Society and other agencies, making it their business to 
investigate such stories, have the same report to give. The 
professionals appealing to one in the streets are impostors, who 
make a more or less easy living by it ; and if one have money to 
give in charity, one is really robbing the poor by worse than 
wasting it on such worthless humbugs, who drain away and 
poison a stream of benevolence that, rightly directed, might 
cleanse all the true distress of London. These people prey upon 
the weakness of human nature. A woman, dressed for the part 
of starvation, hires for fourpence or so a baby, if she have none 
of her own, and such an actress has been caught pricking the 
child with a pin to prompt its part in the squalid comedy. The 
full-fed reveller gets a glow of complacent self-satisfaction by 
throwing her a sixpence he can well spare, then goes his way, 
thanking the electric-lit heaven that he is not as those publicans 
of the Charity Organization Society, some of whom, if he only 
knew it, spend their lives as well as their means in trying to mend 
social evils which such as he only botch anew by their lazy 
donations. If he have sixpences to give away, let him save them 
up till they are worth taking to Denison House, a hive of charit- 
able offices where he will find every opportunity of laying out 
his liberality to real profit. But that takes more trouble than 
to fling your sixpence to the first claimant as thoughtlessly as 
you throw away the end of your cigar. 

So long as there are soft-hearted people who make a conscience 
of giving a copper to anyone who asks them with apparent marks 
of poverty, so long will there be beggars in the land. Beggars 
are not a striking feature of the London streets, but the most 
artful and thriving of the fraternity may be looked for about 
Charing Cross, where hotels full of well-fed visitors make the 
coverts of their hunting-field. There is the out-at-elbows scholar, 
who earnestly begs a total stranger to recommend him on the 


spot for a tutorship. There is the insinuating foreigner, who 
inquires if you can speak his language, and from this indirect 
flattery goes on to confidences as to his unfortunate position. 
There is the respectable young working man, who has just come 
out of hospital, with a frail basket of tools over his shoulder to 
show him ready for a job. One such had nearly come over me 
by the Defoeish minuteness of his tale, in which he artfully 
inserted circumstances that seemed to tell against himself, the 
better to assure me there was no deception ; but, alas ! on inquiry, 
it turned out a work of imagination. There is the neat and modest 
damsel driven to sell bootlaces for the support of a disabled 
father. There is the family who have tramped all the road from 
Norwich in search of work, entering this stony-hearted Metropolis 
by way of Westminster Bridge. There is the bluff colonist, who 
thinks you the man to take an interest in his want of remittances. 
There is the whole gang of " confidence men," who now and then 
amazingly find dupes. All these I counsel the stranger not to 
trust without careful examination into their story ; and he would 
in most cases save time by at once referring them to the police. 

Here is struck a note that resolves all the caterwauling of 
foreigners into harmony. They loudly criticize our constitution, 
our institutions, our national character ; they grumble against 
our climate ; they groan over our cookery ; they shrug their 
shoulders before our architecture ; they hiss at our drama ; they 
shriek about our manners ; they yawn through our Sundays ; 
they sniggle at our prudery ; they snarl at our morgue ; they even 
jeer at our Lifeguardsmen ; but all of them join chorus of admira- 
tion for our police-constables. Citizens of liberalescent empires 
and subjects of Republican bosses alike envy us the stolid figure 
that, without visible weapons, without official pride, without fuss, 
stands visibly controlling a maelstrom of traffic, living statue 
of British respect for law and order. 

The London police-force, indeed, makes a model to the world, 
copied, helmet and all, in miniature, so far off as Siam, and so 
near as Paris, in spirit. No agent of oppression could enjoy such 
credit at home, testified to by the very jests and nicknames 
fastened upon him by the vulgar. " Peeler," now almost extinct, 


and " Bobby," are, of course, from Sir Robert Peel, under whose 
Ministry he came into being ; while his later sobriquet " Copper " 
seems to be of much older origin, perhaps akin to the German 
Caper, a pirate or catcher. He is accused of too much familiarity 
with area-doors and the back-entrances of public-houses, but that 
is mainly our coarse fun, which we poke at the gravest and most 
popular statesman. The manner of his being banged about and 
hoodwinked in the pantomime is but the gargoyle burlesque that 
makes the seamy side of unruffled faith. If ever, being but 
mortal, he exceed his commission, we are the people to let him hear 
of it ; but in our hearts we recognize the patience, good-nature, 
moderation, and common-sense with which, as a rule, he does 
his duty to the general advantage. 

Of late, his temper has been sorely tried, yet he has emerged 
triumphant from all ordeals, even at the hands of hysterical 
Maenads too vain and foolish to understand what might come of 
their fumbling efforts at disorder. Even Sunday shines for him 
less of a Sabbath than other days, since on that day of rest can- 
tankerous busybodies, sore-headed malcontents, loud-lunged 
agitators find it easiest to draw together mobs of idlers, among 
whom some are always ready to be stirred up to violence, but for 
the presence of the police. Everyone understands what these 
amateur politicians mean to say, except sometimes themselves. 
" We don't quite know what we want, but we want it bad, and 
we want it all, and we want it right away !" The only place 
where it may be said with effect is in the councils of a nation 
long ago risen above the need of having its laws made by excited 
mobs. There are lands where public opinion has no better safety- 
valve, but such is not ours. So if my fellow-citizens were to 
make me Dictator by mass-meeting in Trafalgar Square, my first 
act would be to prohibit all processions, demonstrations, and 
other anachronistic hurly-burlies that, on excuse of political or 
religious principles, are got up by amateur revolutionists, with 
the chief result of giving some cheap copy to newspapers, at the 
expense of blocking traffic, disturbing peaceable people, and 
worrying the police. 

Thanks to a disciplined police, in part, our mob assemblies are 



mild indeed compared with those of former generations. But 
not so long ago certain mischievously irresponsible windbags were 
able to raise at Charing Cross a storm that smashed windows and 
had almost broken loose to the wreckage of shops. One leader 
of that uproar has since learned better, who then went into the 
thick of the fray, and got his head broken like a man by police 
truncheons, while some of his allies were content with sitting safe 
at a window and hounding on the rioters by applause as from a 
private box. But when these sedition-mongers were for repeat- 
ing their dangerous experiment, it was brought home to them 
how violence is a game all able-bodied citizens can play at. 
Trafalgar Square was packed with volunteer constables, and as 
the would-be rioters marched up it was a treat to see how weedy 
public-house politicians and noisy hobbledehoys went down before 
the firm ranks of the police, who would rather deal thus with 
ten times their number of men than have to do with scratching 
and screaming women eager to force themselves upon mock 

It was on the day of the first Trafalgar Square riot that I 
heard of a party of country cousins, who, visiting the National 
Gallery, remarked that there seemed to be a great many people 
about, but took such commotion to be nothing out of the common 
in the centre of London. My lot was to pass by one of the last 
meetings in which this agitation fizzled out. Some score or so 
of undersized and out-at-elbows patriots, chiefly foreigners to all 
appearance, had gathered in a corner of the Square, head and 
shoulders above whom stalked their most chivalrous champion, a 
man as warm-hearted as he is wrong-headed on one or two points. 
This hidalgo, ever graceful and humane even in his perfervid 
grudge against the order of things, was minded to be courteous 
to those foes who had shed his blood and cast him in a dungeon. 
To a police official who stood by watchfully observant, I heard 
him say : " Very sorry, Mr. Inspector, to give you all this 
trouble ; but you know it isn't our fault." The officer of the 
law's answer was to turn on his heel with a Wm ! as expres- 
sive as Lord Burleigh's nod. Here, I reflected, were in presence 
the two elements of our national character : the stiff dough of 


Teuton common-sense, that bakes so well when mixed with 
not too much yeast of Celtic fervour, also with more or less 
wholesome adulteration and flavouring ingredients from foreign 

The aliens whom we have received by thousands yearly are 
hereabouts found so thickly lumped that in some streets they 
seem to have banished the native inhabitants. The main colony 
appears to be French, with a large sprinkling of Italians. But the 
Italians, who are counted at over twelve thousand, have another 
settlement of their own, on the farther side of Holborn, with 
Leather Lane as its narrow avenue ; and this swarm, as coming 
chiefly from the hot-blooded South of Italy, bears not so good a 
reputation in our land of law and order. There are also outlying 
rookeries of organ-grinders in Battersea and Hammersmith, where 
they are said to find daughters of the soil willing to adopt their 
costume and to serve their artillery of torture, as it may be to a 
refined ear, while it brings a touch of Southern grace and gaiety 
to the children of stuffy courts, to make up for the cheap poison 
hawked about in ice-cream barrows. The Italian Church in 
Hatton Garden may be taken as a moral centre of the colony. I 
think it was in Tottenham Court Road that Samuel Butler 
describes a raw emigrant from the Mediterranean on his knees 
before a dentist's show-case, conceived by him to contain relics 
of a saint ; but when I once pressed this humorous author as to 
the authenticity of the fact, he would not swear to having seen 
it with his own eyes. There are many legends that would as 
ill bear cross-examination. One would like to bring out some 
points kept obscure in De Quincey's account of his hungry 
trampings of Oxford Street and Soho, which he declares to 
have been solaced by such jingling airs as stir well-fed authors 
to fury. 

As for Germans, before the war they were ilberall, every second 
baker's shop in London bearing a name that hailed either from the 
Fatherland or the Land of Cakes. In this central quarter Latin 
patronymics are most in evidence as connected with what seems 
its chief trade of cookery and provision supply, but Teutonic 
ones also stand over shop doors, mixed with Slavonic, Magyar, 


and other outlandish names, not seldom anglicized by that inter- 
national race that is content to thrive in our modern Babylon. 
But the Jews, of course, have their headquarters rather in the 
East-end than in the West. Soho appears to have been morally 
as well as materially aerated by its opening up in Charing Cross 
Road and Shaftesbury Avenue ; and even before the clearing of 
these new thoroughfares the most dangerous elements of 
foreign outlawry had been overflowing across Oxford Street, 
to hide their explosive aspirations in streets near Tottenham 
Court Road that in Clive Newcome's youth were a haunt of 

In a recent year over forty thousand aliens arrived at the Port 
of London, of whom only a small proportion were rejected as 
manifestly undesirable, caught in the meshes of a new Act that 
seemed to infringe on British traditions of hospitality to all and 
sundry. It is not always possible to say for certain how many 
of these may have been mere transmigrants, perching here on 
the way to other lands of promise. Then the whole body of 
strangers within our gates may be divided between those who 
have taken up their abode among us for good, or otherwise, and 
the numerous birds of passage like hotel servants, come to learn 
our language, along with fowls of prey, who have reasons for a 
temporary absence from their native jurisdiction. Another 
division is suggested by manifest foreigners who look to be down 
on their luck, and those apparently thriving in our foggy air. 
The police could tell queer stories about some of those more or 
less voluntary exiles, among whom are occasionally enacted 
obscure tragedies, believed to be the work of political secret 
societies. But either because too well watched, or because not 
so ill-advised as to quarrel with the law that gives him shelter, 
the reddest anarchist is shy to faire des siennes in London, and 
contents himself with airing his principles in the smoky atmo- 
sphere of certain cafes, or in still more secret resorts. Most of 
the foreign colony, indeed, set an example of law-abiding in- 
dustry and quiet thrift. Not a few of them marry English- 
women, and bring up their children to be patriotic John Bulls, 
who in a generation or two are no longer to be distinguished 


from the mass of the community, unless by their name, and not 
always thus, when Disraeli, Goschen, and Labouchere soon 
become as familiar to us as Walsh or Waddington are in France. 
Perhaps the chief industry of Soho may be taken to be the manu- 
facture of British flesh and blood out of raw material drawn from 
far and wide to this magnetic pole of humanity. Long before 
Charing Cross was set up, indeed, London had been absorbing 
Flemings, Frenchmen, and other foreigners, who still filter in to 
make it an epitome of the world. 


Not every Londoner could tell you off-hand the boundaries of 
Westminster, in which we have been ever since leaving the old 
City gates. In the thirty divisions of our Metropolis, the City 
of Westminster holds up its head among neighbour boroughs, 
remembering how it was once the independent seat of royalty, 
which gradually became welded into the mass of dwellings over- 
spread by London's name. Nor do other cities bear such a rank 
as this one that grew up round what might be called the Cathedral 
of all England ; and as an island of municipal life it has a peculiar 
official styled its High Bailiff. Its area stretches from the City 
to Kensington, and from Oxford Street to the Thames. With a 
population larger than that of most English cities, it makes three 
Parliamentary constituencies, the Strand district, that of May- 
fair and Hanover Square, and the Abbey quarter, which last is 
the Westminster most familiar by name to a generation that 
has ceased to think of St. Paul's as its eastern minster. 

The mists of early history rise off from a waste of riverside 
marshes and islets, one of them emerging under the name of 
Thorney Island, when a bar or bank thrown up by the silt of the 
Tyburn brook had been skinned over with matted vegetation. 
Here the Thames yielded a ford for that ancient road, paved by 
the Romans as highway from the north-western corner to the 
south-eastern coast of their British province. The rude Saxons 
were so struck with wonder at the construction of this road and 
its stations that they seem to have attributed such works to their 
mythical heroes, the Watlings, as elsewhere they gave a dark 
spirit of evil credit for the Grim's Dykes and Devil's Dykes of 
imposing British fortifications. When London Bridge came to 




be built, Watling Street was diverted towards it through the 
City, in which a fragment of this sideway still preserves the 
name. The original thoroughfare, holding on from the straight 
Edgware Road, took the line perhaps of Park Lane, then bent 
eastward to strike its crossing-place by Thorney Island, where 
the name of Horseferry Road makes a memorial of how Lambeth 
was reached in the centuries throughout which London had but 
one bridge. 

Observing from Westminster Bridge how " ships, towers, domes, 
theatres, and temples " no longer " lie open unto the fields," we 
must stretch our imagination to picture the scene as it was in 
the days of Boadicea, whose effigy stands here, looking as if her 
chariot should be turned round so as to give the plunging steeds 
a free course down the Embankment. On Thorney Island, 
tradition puts a church of St. Peter, built by an East Saxon king 
at the beginning of the seventh century, when the Apostle him- 
self left heaven unguarded to consecrate this favoured shrine. 
Then rose a Benedictine monastery, whose Dane-ravaged walls 
gave place to the Abbey and Church finished just in time to be 
tomb of Edward the Confessor, who at Westminster had a 
" King's House," supposed to have been first built by Canute. 
The Norman kings dallied for a time with the fame of Alfred's 
capital; the Conqueror had been crowned at Winchester as 
well as at Westminster, to make assurance of conquest doubly 
sure. But the magnetic power of London drew them to the 
Thames, and they fixed their seat beside the Abbey, which was 
rebuilt by Henry III., to be completed under the first Tudor 
king, all but the incongruous western towers added in Wren's 
time. Windsor, Sheen, Hampton Court, Greenwich, Whitehall, 
Kensington, St. James's, in turn became favourite residences with 
successive groups of sovereigns ; but the Palace of Westminster 
was long royalty's official seat, as it now enshrines the modern 
majesty of the people. 

Such, in brief, is the history of the group of historic fanes in 
which Church and State have been throned together for a thou- 
sand years. The oldest of the secular buildings is Westminster 
Hall, first erected by William Rufus, enlarged and dignified to be 


a meeting-place of Parliaments, and a theatre for state cere- 
monies down to the Coronation banquets of George IV. Many 
famous trials have been held here, among them those of Charles I., 
of the Seven Bishops, and of Warren Hastings. Till the new 
Courts of Law were built at Temple Bar, this Hall made our 
chief temple of justice, whose shrines have now been cleared 
away, and the spacious Norman structure, with its rich oak roof 
and show of royal statues, is restored as a monument of the past, 
and as a befitting anteroom to the Houses of Parliament. At 
one time it was allowed to be littered with tables of money- 
changers and scriveners ; then for long its outside walls were 
blocked up by the shops of booksellers, wig-makers, and other 
hangers-on of the law. This is not the only clearance made in 
the last generation or two, for G. A. Sala could remember how 
the most sacred monuments of English history were neighboured 
by a cloaca of " malodorous streets " and " felonious slums." 

The rest of the Palace of Westminster was burned down in 
1835, to be replaced at a cost of three millions by Barry's im- 
posing if much-criticized pile, containing eleven courts, a hundred 
staircases, hundreds of halls and chambers, not counting the 
private residences of officials of the House, and a prison for 
offenders against its privileges. The Clock Tower, over which 
flies a flag to proclaim when our legislators are at work, has a 
modern dungeon of no very severe punishment, that, coming to 
an end with the Session, would be nowadays an excellent adver- 
tisement for ambitious demagogues, who might ask nothing 
better than to have their duress famed by the tongue of Big 
Ben. Poor Guy Fawkes and his fellow-conspirators were more 
roughly handled when they proposed to move an adjournment of 
the House in a manner far from parliamentary. So conservative 
are we, that every year, on the night before the meeting of Par- 
liament, its cellars must be formally searched to make sure that 
no store of explosives has escaped the eye of the police-force who 
keep watch and ward over this focus of national wisdom. 

A quarter of a century ago certain Irish- Yankee miscreants 
attempted to revive the melodrama of Guy Fawkes in an up-to- 
date form, when in 1885 London became startled but not terrified 


by repeated dynamite explosions. I happened to be passing 
when the House of Parliament was thus shaken, and what struck 
me most was the absence of anything like panic in a commotion 
exaggerated to make copy for certain newspapers. I had reached 
the end of Westminster Bridge when the first explosion took 
place. A passing 'bus-driver waved his whip to another, with 
the cry, " Dynamite !" then both drove quietly on. I know not 
what put it into my head that there would be another explosion, 
so that for a moment I thought of crossing the road to get clear 
of the Clock Tower beneath which I stood ; but, on considering 
its height, I judged as well to stay where I was, and at once 
addressed myself to noting the demeanour of the crowd, no every- 
day chance for an observer of men and manners. After the first 
explosion, a number of passers-by rushed into Palace Yard. 
When the second followed, they turned to scamper back, amid 
the jeers and laughter of those outside. The police were quickly 
on the spot to close all entrances, and after that no sentiment 
more agitating than curiosity was shown by the gathering throng. 
We had to wait for special editions of the evening papers to learn 
how, within, two policemen had been seriously injured amid the 
wreck of the empty House of Commons. It was on the same day 
that an explosion took place at the Tower, where the scoundrels 
succeeded in hurting some half-dozen children. Two of the same 
gang, it is supposed, had made an attempt on London Bridge, in 
which they appear to have been hoist by their own petard, 
nothing more being heard or seen of them. So perish all such 
traitors to humanity ! 

Such was certainly the fate of the stumbling wretch who 
carried a bomb against Greenwich Observatory, seeking to blow 
up the very meridian, as would seem. On his body was found a 
scorched British Museum ticket for a chemical work, from which 
he might have learned the composition of his explosive; so 
in the Museum Reading-Room detectives were kept on sharp 
watch for the next reader who should demand that book. One 
day an excited assistant, according to orders, brought a ticket 
sent in for the perilous volume. The Superintendent, at that 
time a gentleman who had served his country in arms, hastily 



mustered a posse that with all due precaution closed upon the 
suspected malefactor ; then he turned out to be the author of the 
book, who could not afford to buy it ! At places like the British 
Museum, respectable citizens were subjected to inconvenient sus- 
picion. One eminent scholar was arrested by a zealous young 
constable as carrying a black bag, which on cautious examination 
turned out to contain nothing more dangerous than proof-sheets 
of the " Oxford Dictionary," that ever since has been exploding 
in numbers. But the public soon got over its first fit of scared 
excitement after the blowing down of Clerkenwell Prison wall, 
when four people were killed and forty injured by reckless 
ignorance, helped by police bungling. 

The tooth of time is an enemy against which no policeman can 
guard the most sumptuous pile. The new Palace's outer coating, 
though carefully selected, is found too soft to be weather-proof. 
Whether the smoke of London be to blame, or, as has been suggested, 
the fumes from Doulton's Works wafted against it by the pre- 
vailing wind, this stone wears away so as to need constant repairs. 
The Abbey, too, seems to have decayed faster in the last few 
decades than in all its previous centuries ; and one of its canonries 
has to be suspended to meet the cost of constant patching, which 
puts it in debt like any brand-new temple of gingerbread Gothic. 
Not far off, Cleopatra's Needle has in one generation of sojourn 
among us lost more of its sharpness of outline than through ages 
under an Egyptian sky. Sir W. B. Richmond puts the blame on 
the sulphuric acid with which, from one source or other, London's 
air is now loaded. A silica wash has been applied in vain as a 
tonic. But if any New Zealand artist, when he comes to make 
his sketch here, find nothing but ivied ruins, there is no fear for 
the fame of our " Mother of Parliaments," wherever it may be 
housed by that day. 

We may have to look abroad for models of stately palaces, but 
the British Constitution, built up in our rule-of-thumb fashion, 
without regard to style or symmetry, proves as yet the most solid 
structure that ever kept a people's freedom storm-proof. All 
over the world it has the flattery of envy, and of imitation in 
some most uncongenial climes. The Czar is fain to let a Duma 

Cleopatra's needle and somerset house 


come together. The very Turk puffs at hubble-bubble election- 
eering. The Shah has played to his peril with representative 
institutions, not so easily broken as toy-soldiers might be. The 
King of Tongataboo sits among tawny M.P.'s. India cries out 
for National Councils to vindicate liberties of which she knows 
nothing but from English books. What those apes of our good- 
fortune may still have to seek is the public spirit and practical 
temper, without which their representative chambers will be but 
as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals. 

One need not expatiate on the mixture of keenness and fair- 
ness with which here is played the great game of Ins and Outs. 
To an outsider, the rules of this game seem by no means ideal, 
devised as if to give chance undue weight as against skill and 
principle. Constituencies of various sizes have the same voice 
in the choice of Government. Electoral districts like Romford, 
Harrow, or Wandsworth speak no more loudly from tens of 
thousand throats than do Rutlandshire or Kilkenny with their 
small troop of voters. And in any constituency the accident 
or trick of a confused contest may give it a member chosen by a 
minority, so long as a second ballot seems too reasonable, or 
troublesome, to fit in with our rough-and-ready arrangements. 
Then comes the question of how a candidate recommends him- 
self to those sweet voices. In theory, their choice should mark 
him as the flower of his fellow-citizens. In practice it is not quite 
so, though, perhaps, more so than in any other country. In this 
country we have the immense advantage that still the best men, 
in every sense, are proud of getting into what has been called the 
best club in London, on which designation a certain member 
remarks that " the entrance-fee is far too high, and the annual 
subscription extortionately heavy." 

Membership of the House of Commons is still what Disraeli 
judged it, " the greatest opportunity that can be offered to an 
Englishman." More and more, however, he must stoop to win 
this honour through an ordeal of heckling from organized caucuses, 
and of pledges to banded interests ; while still luck comes some- 
times into play, now that we have forgotten the rotten borough 
days when such statesmen as Macaulay and Gladstone stood 


upon the favour of a patron, and apparent nonentities like 
Creevey in fact, and Phineas Finn in fiction, contrived to win 
their way to social success by taking a minor part in the councils 
of the nation. Local interest or popularity, the chance of a 
timely vacancy, the absence of a serious rival, go to account for 
many men getting into Parliament. Others have to lay siege 
to this ambition, pushing their trenches for years, perhaps to 
fall on the long- watched breach, perhaps to storm the place by 
fortunate assault at the nick of time. Some win by dogged per- 
severance after repeated defeats ; some fail at the critical moment 
for want of the sinews of war. Though boroughs like Eatonswill 
are disfranchised, and great families no longer come to ruin by 
contesting counties, money has still too much weight in elections. 
Anyone could name Members of Parliament who, without being 
distinguished or gifted above their fellows, have practically 
bought their places by a judicious use of the root of evil. One 
such, whose success amazed me, I once fell in with on a tour of 
the kingdom for the inspection of seats soon to be vacant. He 
spoke quite frankly of such a one as too dear, and of such another 
as within his means, which he actually secured in due time, 
though a stranger, not only to the district, but even to the 
country, after earning a fortune at the other end of the world. 

This greatness, then, some achieve by merit or other means ; 
some are born with a fair chance of it ; some have it thrust upon 
them ; and when the rough sifting of an election is over, the six 
hundred and seventy seats are filled by as many gentlemen who 
fairly enough, perhaps, represent the wisdom, and unwisdom, of 
their electors. The majority proceed to make laws for us, more 
or less faithfully carrying out the mandate they have received 
from public opinion. Public opinion usually amounts to a few 
hundred thousand weathercocks, who have shifted their votes 
from one side to the other, partly in obedience to some popular 
cry, partly in impatience of the Government which has not made 
good such promises as are offered in turn by the Opposition. In 
this game the bowling seems always to have an advantage over 
the batting. But so long as the side that is in can hold together, 
it has the power to oppress us with laws and taxes, a tyranny 


tempered by the moderation of the national spirit, by an eye on 
critical constituencies, and — but there's the rub ! — by the regu- 
lating pendulum of the House of Lords. 

Here is a part of the machinery that looks more ill-contrived 
and indefensible than the other. In this deal of the game it is 
fortune that cuts and shuffles the cards. By services, glorious 
or otherwise, to their country, by weight of wealth won nobly 
or ignobly, by Court favour, by political intrigues, sometimes as 
an honourable form of disgrace, or as an extinguisher of guttering 
ambition, a citizen is raised to the heaven of the peerage, where 
he and his heirs are understood to lie calmly beside their nectar, 
careless of common mankind, in whose governance they have 
what is now practically the last word. What device could be 
more unpromising, which yet has worked not so ill ? There are 
wise lords as well as foolish ones, and the latter may learn from the 
former not to take themselves for Solons. The most rakish heir 
of a once-noble name has a right to sit in judgment on the deepest 
questions, yet in practice he commonly abandons this responsi- 
bility to a few fit councillors. The House of Lords, recruited 
constantly from tried statesmen in the Commons, from the most 
successful professional men, and from men who have at least 
known how to make money, is not more inferior to the Commons 
in rhetoric than it is superior in experience and independence. 
Business men tell us they would rather deal with a Committee 
of the Upper than with one of the Lower House. It is the cream 
of the Lords who do most of their business. And if the worst 
comes to the worst, if dissolute dukes and impecunious earls 
and brainless barons are raked in from the turf or the bridge- 
table to vote against some measure demanded by the majority 
of the moment, why, this power of hereditary legislators cannot 
now in the long-run withstand the popular will, but will more or 
less gracefully bow to that opinion of the many, once it be clearly 
proved to know its own mind. 

We may have had cause to thank Heaven for our House of 
Lords, so often and so easily pelted by democratic common- 
places. Yet prudent observers of the political sky foresee a 
time when the wind will not blow so steadily first from one 


quarter, then from the other, and warn us how the ship of State 
may soon be tossing on billows of popular agitation, exposed to 
gusty squalls, or even tornadoes long unknown in our temperate 
clime. — Since these lines were written, such a tempest has gathered 
upon the horizon ! — Gilded figureheads and gay bunting will then 
be of less service than a well-ballasted keel answering trimly to the 
helm. How would our Constitution be strengthened if we had a 
Senate of real senators, the cream and pick of all classes, interests, 
and talents, that might command the respect of every thinking 
citizen, and could not be belittled even by talking demagogues ? 
[s it not time for a reform of the Lords from within as well 
as without ? There are forces at work more corrosive than 
the fogs and foul winds that sap the walls of Westminster. 
Some critics even ask if the corner-stone will always stand firm ? 
Is it high treason to speculate how we might some day get a 
sovereign with a troublesome will and conscience of his own, not 
content to be the one man in the kingdom whose religion is fixed 
for him by law, and who has no open voice in public policy ? 
He might even become a convert to Republicanism, which surely 
would be an ideal form of Government, but for the want of re- 

In an out-of-the-way part of the country I once took tea with 
the holder of a famous title, fallen upon an old gentleman to 
whom it was of little use. He was singularly simple in his man- 
ners, secluded in his habits, and too poor to buy a coronet, 
instead of which he wore the same hat, on all occasions, for many 
years together, a social sin I envied, not abhorred, in one set 
above caring what his neighbours thought of him. For some- 
thing to say, I asked him if he ever went to the House of Lords. 
"Only once," he replied. "They told me Gladstone was a 
dangerous man, and I went up to vote against him ; but I caught 
a bad cold, and never mean to go again." I am not sure how 
far he was himself playing the sly humorist, but a few weeks 
later this anecdote, " with a cocked hat and stick," made the 
subject of a picture in Punch. I might have taken it for a coinci- 
dence had not, the week before, the same paper given forth 
another experience of mine in the same sojourn — a lady meeting 



an old servant of hers, and asking where she lived now, to which 
the answer was : " I don't live anywhere, ma'am ; I'm married." 
These two incidents had tickled me so much at the time that I 
communicated them to a friend, who was a friend of Du Maurier, 
and thus I became an unwitting contributor to Punch. There 
was another comic paper of those days named Funny Folks, for 
which also I supplied copy without meaning it. I had been 
travelling with a Parliamentary candidate, who was to take his 
stand on the temperance platform ; so by way of practice, in the 
refreshment-room of a junction where we had to spend half an 
hour, he asked a youthful waiter if any temperance beverages 
could be had. " Yes, sir ; 'ock, sir, and claret, sir !" This 
answer I told as a good joke to the editor of Funny Folks, whom 
I met at dinner that evening. But when a few weeks later I 
was moved to trot out the same story before another friend, 
he winked at me derisively : " You got that out of Funny Folks /" 

This apparently frivolous digression leads me round to the 
Fourth Estate of the realm, which some reckon now the most 
powerful of all, though it has no palace at Westminster. But 
the ministers of the Press, like the members of the House, depend 
upon the favour of their constituents. Fear of newspaper critics 
forbids me to follow out this theme ; so I will only remark that 
perhaps the weakest point of our state is that, while electors of 
old were too often bribed and wheedled into voting Whig or Tory, 
too many in the present generation seem more easily moved by 
political caricatures and spicy paragraphs than by the soundest 
arguments or the most thrilling eloquence. Yet with all the 
faults of our much-mended Constitution, what other has as yet 
been so successful in making freedom and order dwell side by 
side ? So, without more poking into the mortar of our institu- 
tions, let us pass from the State to the Church, that can no 
longer claim to represent the national voice. 

Hard by, in a " temple of silence and reconciliation," lie the 
bones or stand the cold effigies of silent orators who once de- 
nounced and defied each other so hotly within the walls of West- 
minster Palace. Westminster Abbey is the most sacred spot in 
England, hallowed by centuries of worship among monuments of 


the past, where renowned rulers and their victims rest round the 
despoiled shrine of that meek Confessor whose heirs so seldom 
illustrated the Christian virtues. Oldest relic of all is the stone 
of Scone in the Coronation Chair, swept down by a glacier-stream 
of conquest from the Scottish hills, where it was fondly treasured 
as Jacob's pillow. On this stolen fragment of immemorial anti- 
quity the Sovereigns of Britain sit to be crowned, making a public 
covenant with their people beside the tombs of their ancestors — 
a sight that has not always been seen in a generation, and which 
each generation may hope not to see. 

The guardians of the Abbey look with dread on that rarely 
recurrent ceremonial, when its broken spaces must be lumbered 
up with galleries and other structures both disfiguring and 
damaging to the fabric. Did not theology as well as sentiment 
forbid, the new Roman Catholic Cathedral might with advantage 
be borrowed for such state spectacles. But for lack of dignity, 
the Albert Hall, that of Olympia, or the Agricultural Hall at 
Islington, would make a better theatre. Nor is Westminster 
Abbey well adapted for worship of a large congregation. It 
enjoys a peculiar ecclesiastical rank — shared, I believe, by St. 
George's, Windsor, and the humbler chapel of Christ's College at 
Brecon — in being under the see of no Bishop, so that its Dean 
is free to let any voice be raised in it. Under Dean Stanley, a 
Presbyterian minister and even a layman held forth here, to the 
scandal of sound Anglicans. But when once I sought to stand 
within hearing of that mild heretic in his own church, all I could 
catch from behind a pillar were the words, " Once more," hardly 
enough for edification. The Gothic fane is better suited for 
musical services, their sweetness enhanced by the natural gloom 
and silence that struck Washington Irving into eloquent medita- 

The eyes gaze with wonder at clustered columns of gigantic dimen- 
sions, with arches springing from them to such an amazing height, 
and man wandering about their bases, shrunk into insignificance in 
comparison with his own handiwork. The spaciousness and gloom 
of this vast edifice produce a profound and mysterious awe. We step 
cautiously and softly about, as if fearful of disturbing the hallowed 
silence of the tomb ; while every footfall whispers along the walls, and 


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W , '' t .: 1 ifclj ' 



chatters among the sepulchres, making us more sensible of the quiet 
we have interrupted. It seems as if the awful nature of the place 
presses down upon the soul, and hushes the beholder into noiseless 
reverence. We feel that we are surrounded by the congregated bones 
of the great men of past times, who have filled history with their 
deeds, and the earth with their renown. And yet it almost provokes 
a smile at the vanity of human ambition, to see how they are crowded 
together and jostled in the dust ; what parsimony is observed in 
doling out a scanty nook, a gloomy corner, a little portion of earth, 
to those whom, when alive, kingdoms could not satisfy ; and how 
many shapes and forms and artifices are devised to catch the casual 
notice of the passenger, and save from forgetfulness, for a few short 
years, a name \* inch once aspired to occupy ages of the world's thought 
and admiration. . . . 

The sound of casual footsteps had ceased from the Abbey. I could 
only hear, now and then, the distant voice of the priest repeating the 
evening service, and the faint responses of the choir ; these paused for 
a time, and all was hushed. The stillness, the desertion, and obscurity 
that were gradually prevailing around gave a deeper and more solemn 
interest to the place : 

For in the silent grave no conversation, 
No Joyful tread of friends, no voice of lovers, 
No careful father's counsel — nothing's heard, 
For nothing is, but all oblivion, 
Dust, and an endless darkness. 

Suddenly the notes of the deep- labouring organ burst upon the ear, 

falling with doubled and redoubled intensity, and rolling, as it were, 

huge billows of sound. How well do their volume and grandeur 

accord with this mighty building ! With what pomp do they swell 

through its vast vaults, and breathe their awful harmony through 

these caves of death, and make the silent sepulchre vocal ! And now 

they rise in triumphant acclamation, heaving higher and higher their 

accordant notes, and piling sound on sound. And now they pause, 

and the soft voices of the choir break out into sweet gushes of melody ; 

they soar aloft, and warble along the roof, and seem to play about 

these lofty vaults like the pure airs of heaven. Again the pealing organ 

heaves its thrilling thunders, compressing air into music, and rolling 

it forth upon the soul. What long-drawn cadences ! What solemn, 

sweeping concords ! It grows more and more dense and powerful — it 

fills the vast pile, and seems to Jar the very walls — the ear is stunned — 

the senses are overwhelmed. And now it is winding up in full Jubilee 

— it is rising from the earth to heaven — the very soul seems rapt away 

and floated upwards on this swelling tide of harmony. 



The Abbey makes London's sight of sights, which few can 
visit unmoved, by its illustrious memories, if not by its solemn 
ritual. Of one young Australian, indeed, it is told that he would 
not allow himself to be roused to admiration for a structure so 
little up to date. " My word, you should see the Scotch Church 
in Ballarat !" But even gold-grubbers from Johannesburg and 
pork-butchers from Chicago might fain stand hushed in such a 
scene, where gentler spirits dread their own footsteps as a sacri- 
lege. So popular a sight, indeed, is this in the tourist season, 
that the spirit of the place seems exorcised by so many hasty 
stares, and the parties conducted through its storied chapels 
must carry away but a confused impression of monuments whose 
congenial atmosphere should be twilight silence. 

Few visitors have such a chance of communion with its shadowy 
inhabitants as did Chateaubriand when he had so spun out a 
lonely day-dream as by accident to get locked up here for the 
night. All his shouting and beating upon the gates being in 
vain, he had to resign himself to sleep with the dead, among 
whom nothing seemed alive but the hammer of a clock striking 
the long hours. As from one world into another, there reached 
his ears the muffled roll of wheels and the cry of the watchman 
outside ; and into the Abbey's solemn spaces stole the Thames 
fog and London's smoky breath to deepen the gathering dark- 
ness. Since better might not be, he groped about for a resting- 
place, chosen on a cold sarcophagus, shrouded in marble and 
curtained by emblems of death, where, like Charles V., he had 
a sensation of rehearsing his own burial. There, he says, he was 
in a front seat for beholding the vain pageant of time, and did 
not fail to indulge congenial reflections on the littleness of mortal 
life, however illustrious for a moment. " Bacon, Newton, Milton 
are as deeply buried, as much passed away for ever as are their 
most obscure contemporaries. Myself, exiled, vagabond, poor, 
would I agree to be no more the forgotten and sorrowful nobody 
that I am, on condition of having been one of those dead men, 
once famous, powerful, glutted with enjoyment ?" Also, in this 
chilly hall of funereal spectacles, he could not but let his flesh 
creep for half-tickling, half-appalling imaginations. When at 



last a faint ray dawned out of one of the blackest corners, he 
fancied it at first an emanation from the spirits of the young 
York Princes, murdered by their uncle. But this light proved 
not at all ghostly, a paper-shielded candle in the hand of a girl 
coming at daybreak to take the place of her sick father as bell- 
ringer. She might well be frightened to encounter among the 
tombs a polite stranger wanting to be let out. 

The adventure ends a la fran^aise, with a cryptic allusion to a 
kiss, the point of which is made less clear than the fact of this 
reflective genius being so little overawed by his night's experi- 
ence that presently he was conspiring with a friend to court 
emotions by again getting themselves shut up in the Abbey. 
I knew a less illustrious foreigner who had the chance to be 
locked into the organ-loft of one of our English minsters, but his 
experience was not so prolonged or so edifying. " I prayed the 
Virgin to open me," he related in his imperfect English, which 
petition could be translated as a summoning of the verger. 
Another nocturnal intruder on the Abbey tombs was the sacri- 
legious burglar of tradition, so scared by Roubiliac's realistic 
sculpture of Death brandishing a dart at Lady Elizabeth Nightin- 
gale, that he is said to have dropped his tools and fled from that 
moonlit terror. 

Many authors have here mused on an obvious moral, which 
Francis Beaumont put into verse, as Addison into prose : 

Think how many royal bones 

Sleep within this heap of stones ; 

Here they lie had realms and lands 

Who now want strength to stir their hands, 

Where from their pulpits sealed with dust, 

They preach In greatness is no trust. 

Here's an acre sown indeed, 

With the richest, royalist seed, 

That the earth did e'er suck in 

Since the first man died for sin. 

No pilgrims have been more eloquent on this theme than Ameri- 
cans. Washington Irving's meditations might be thought too 
well known for quotation, while another transatlantic visitor of 


our own day, Mr. William Winter, serves us with a catalogue of 
great names : 

You cannot long endure, and you never can express, the sense of 
grandeur that is inspired by Westminster Abbey ; but, when at length 
its shrines and tombs and statues become familiar, when its chapels, 
aisles, arches, and cloisters are grown companionable, and you can 
stroll and dream undismayed " through rows of warriors and through 
walks of kings," there is no limit to the pensive memories they awaken 
and the poetic fancies they prompt. In this church are buried, amidst 
generations of their nobles and courtiers, fourteen monarchs of Eng- 
land — beginning with the Saxon Sebert and ending with George the 
Second. Fourteen queens rest here, and many children of the royal 
blood who never came to the throne. Here, confronted in a haughty 
rivalry of solemn pomp, rise the equal tombs of Elizabeth Tudor and 
Mary Stuart. Queen Eleanor's dust is here, and here, too, is the dust 
of the grim Queen Mary. In one little chapel you may pace, with but 
half a dozen steps, across the graves of Charles the Second, William and 
Mary, and Queen Anne and her consort Prince George. At the tomb 
of Henry the Fifth you may see the helmet, shield, and saddle which 
were worn by the valiant young knight at Agincourt ; and close by — 
on the tomb of Margaret Woodville, daughter of Edward the Fourth — 
the sword and shield that were borne, in royal state, before the great 
Edward the Third five hundred years ago. The princes whom Richard 
murdered in the Tower are commemorated here by an altar, set up by 
Charles the Second, whereon the inscription — blandly and almost 
humorously oblivious of the incident of Cromwell — states that it was 
erected in the thirtieth year of Charles' reign. Richard the Second, 
deposed and assassinated, is here entombed ; and within a few feet 
of him are the relics of his uncle, the able and powerful Duke of 
Gloucester, whom treacherously he ensnared and betrayed to death. 
Here also, huge, rough and grey, is the stone sarcophagus of Edward 
the First, which, when opened years ago, disclosed the skeleton of 
departed majesty, still perfect, wearing robes of gold tissue and crimson 
velvet, and having a crown on the head and a sceptre in the hand. 
So sleep, in jewelled darkness and gaudy decay, what once were 
monarchs ! And all around are great lords, sainted prelates, famous 
statesmen, renowned soldiers, and illustrious poets. Burleigh, Pitt, 
Fox, Burke, Canning, Newton, Barrow, Wilberforce — names for ever 
glorious ! — are here enshrined in the grandest sepulchre on earth. 

As well as not always reverent sight-seers, a hindrance to devo- 
tion seems the mob of statues and other memorials of worthy 



mixed with unworthy names, their claims to remembrance seldom 
equal to the pretension of their monuments. Yet this incon- 
gruous jumble not unduly represents the various phases of our 
national life. Mailed crusaders lie near their descendants in the 
softer garb of cavaliers, and these are succeeded by the sculptured 
allegories so oddly fitted to an age of wigs and ruffles, which in 
turn give place to the revival of purer taste that marks our own 
day. But we could well spare not a few pompous epitaphs and 
sprawling classicalities that crowd into obscure corners some of 
our truly illustrious dead. 

The idea of making Westminster a tomb for English heroes 
seems to have been Cromwell's, whose own corpse was so shame- 
fully expelled from its precincts when dawned " the golden age 
of the coward, the bigot, and the slave." During the next cen- 
tury or so admission was granted somewhat indiscriminately, 
being, to the dead as to the living, mainly a matter of fees. There 
was more room here when Johnson quoted to Goldsmith a line 
which the latter slyly whispered back, as anon they passed under 
the rebel heads on Temple Bar : " Forsitan et nostrum nomen 
miscebitur istis/" 

Now the scrimped space is jealously guarded, as it need be, 
when notoriety's trumpet gives forth such noisy blasts. Our 
great men, or big men, loom out through a haze of paragraphs 
and puffs, enlarged for the eye of public curiosity by journalistic 
art, so that it is more than ever difficult to cast their true pro- 
portions, while nothing but good may be said of them. If such 
a man's opportunity be to die at a season when no exciting 
cricket-match or moving political debate or sensational trial be 
stirring, our ticklers of the public's long ear seize the chance of 
" booming " this fresh memory, and soon work themselves up 
into shrouding the celebrity of the day in a fame measured for 
all time ; then more paragraphs can be made of outcries against 
the authority that should not let itself be lightly moved to fill 
the few graves still left in the Abbey. In the case of authors, 
this outcry becomes loudest, as they have the widest constituency 
of applause ; but it is just in such cases that renown may well 
wait for its due estimation. Our age would be more judicious 


than its predecessors, could it always pronounce infallibly which 
of its favourites were worthy to lie beside Chaucer in the Poets' 
Corner, that already shows scant room for abridged memorials 
to enchanters of the English tongue, born on both sides the 

Royal burials ended here with George II., and before that the 
Stuart kings lay unrecorded in this roll of carven fame, though 
James I. erected tombs both to his mother and to her foe, Eliza- 
beth. His own grave was identified only in our time. Charles II. 
has no memorial but the gruesome wax effigy which once made 
part of funeral pomp. Several of these effigies are now exposed 
to view above the Islip Chapel, but some are in such a state of 
hideous decay as to be kept locked away. The oldest shown 
seems to be that of Queen Elizabeth, with staring eyes and 
pinched lips. Buxom Queen Anne and sallow William, over- 
looked by his Mary, look as if they had been restored. The most 
lifelike figures are those of the elder Pitt and of Nelson, the latter 
dressed in his actual clothes. How many of the marble statues 
below had been better made in wax, and, instead of figuring 
through centuries of sculptured nakedness, clothed in perishable 
silk and lace such as padded out their imposing figures to the 
bleared eyes of contemporaries ! 

Some more precious ornaments of the Abbey have been less 
carefully preserved. The golden shrine of the Confessor's tomb, 
with other treasures, were melted down in the first blaze of the 
Reformation. The Puritans, very unreasonably, wrecked that 
younger Edward's tomb, who was the most Protestant of our 
kings ; and by them also were destroyed some artistic emblems 
of superstition ; yet not so much havoc was then wrought as 
might have been feared. Just before the Revolution, a prying 
chorister was able to handle the bones of the Confessor. Private 
cupidity or vandalism may be blamed for the disappearance of 
jewels, mosaics, statuettes, and such portable bits of decoration. 
At one time visitors seem to have roamed at will over the struc- 
ture, free to work the mutilations and disfigurements that here 
and there are too apparent. Later on, the authorities went to 
the other extreme, when Charles Lamb complains of two shillings 


as an exorbitant charge for admission, while at St. Paul's it was 
only twopence. Always the Westminster boys must have had 
access to the Abbey, and boys at all times have been apt to mis- 
chief. Lamb half humorously hints at Southey, in his republi- 
can salad days, as author of an outrage upon Major Andre's 
monument. In the Reformation time we have a record of more 
deadly mischief done by one of the school " children," who by 
throwing a stone that hit him under the ear, killed a boy selling 
books and papers in Westminster Hall, and had to take sanctuary 
in the Abbey, as often did more distinguished offenders, not 
always to find due immunity. 

The quiet of the cloisters is enlivened by the laughing chat of 
these young gentlemen, whose time-honoured School adjoins the 
Abbey in which they pay their devotions, and they have also 
privileged entrance to the House of Parliament. The scholars, 
with their black gowns and white neckties, excite the respect or 
curiosity of foreign visitors, who might see them more lightly 
arrayed in their Vincent Square playground, not far off, though 
they have been fain to give up the boating on the river that used 
to be one of their favourite pastimes. We know, if foreigners do 
not, how this foundation has long taken rank as one of our great 
public schools, a notoriously rough one from the old days when 
Busby's rod was plied on so many budding statesmen and pre- 
lates ; yet it has had such a gentle pupil as Cowper, and such an 
uncongenial one as Zerah Colburn, the American calculating boy, 
whose school-days here had nearly been reduced to a fraction 
when he refused to submit to the truly British institution of 
fagging. Westminster's distinction now is as the only one of the 
great London schools still clinging to its venerable walls, as well 
it may, when they incorporate some part of the monastery that 
was the core of the whole group. 

The most notable fragment of the Confessor's building is the 
Pyx Chapel, now shown by electric torchlight, once the treasure- 
house of the regalia and crown jewels, in which came to be kept 
the pyx containing the standards of coinage, afterwards removed 
to the Mint. At the west end is the Jerusalem Chamber, a ban- 
queting hall of the abbots, in which Henry IV. died, and it has 


been used for many gatherings both festive and funereal. Here, 
when Henry VII. 's Chapel proved too cold for them, the West- 
minster Assembly of Divines met to draw up a catechism that, 
even in its shorter form, has caused many tears and stripes to the 
young Old Adams of two continents ; and here was hammered out 
that revision of the Scriptures that vexed some grown-up believers. 
In passing round the Cloisters, visitors will not neglect to turn 
into the Chapter House, which has served as a meeting-place for 
Parliament and as a store-house for Domesday Book and other 
musty records. It is now restored and lit by storied glass to the 
memory of Dean Stanley, long the loving guardian of a minster 
" winch has been entwined by so many continuous threads with 
the history of a whole nation." 

But this is not a guide-book to catalogue all the sights of our 
Christian Valhalla, coming to a climax in Henry VII. 's Chapel. 
Before turning away from the Abbey, strangers should look into 
the church nestled beside it, like the tender of a man-of-war, 
St. Margaret's, " Parish Church of the House of Commons," 
notably rich in stained glass. The famous east window was 
intended for Henry VII. 's Chapel, but the Reformation barred 
it out of the Abbey, and not till the eighteenth century did it 
find a place in St. Margaret's, after moving adventures related in 
my book on Essex. Other windows make monuments to various 
worthies, more than one of them due to American liberality. 
The west window was put up by our cousins in honour of Walter 
Raleigh, without whom there might have been no British America. 
Another, the gift of Mr. George W. Childs, of Philadelphia, insti- 
gated by Dean Farrar, the then incumbent, makes a memorial to 
the poet whose song, " the common freehold " of since sundered 
nations, foresaw those 

Storied windows richly dight 
Casting a dim religious light. 

My old club-mate, J. T. Micklethwaite, who lies buried in the 
Abbey of which he was the professional attendant and reverent 
devotee, used to chuckle over his tale of a cabman who, on re- 
ceiving the direction, " Westminster Abbey," replied, " That's 


near the Aquarium, isn't it, sir ?" About forty years ago spread 
the vogue of aquariums, whose glass was made excuse for mis- 
cellaneous entertainments. The Westminster one had its swim 
of popularity that ran dry in time, and its very name, hardly 
known to taxi-cabmen, begins to be forgotten by the rising 
generation of pleasure-seekers. It now makes way for a building 
that is to be the headquarters of the Wesleyan Church, an out- 
ward and visible sign how once humble Methodism has grown at 
ease in its fissiparous Sion. One wonders whether the Wesleys 
would be Wesleyans, were they alive to-day to find new life 
breathed into their Mother Church. And, when this building's 
turn comes to be demolished, one wonders what may have hap- 
pened to Wesleyanism and other isms that take themselves quite 
complacently for eternal verities. 

Not far off rises the campanile of another pile, built by the 
Mother of Anglicanism, grandparent of such rebellious daughters, 
the Church that bids fair to outlive them all, after being driven 
from its old temples and schooled by persecution where it once 
held its head so proudly, with king and people on their knees 
beneath its hand stretched out to bless or to chastise. It can 
raise no controversy to state that in the last half-century the 
Roman Catholic Church has been winning back in England much 
of what was once its own, under leaders fiercely denounced or 
lightly mocked in vain — 

Go get you manned by Manning and new-manned 
By Newman, and, mayhap, wise-manned by Wiseman ! 

One of those English Cardinals, it is understood, was by the 
same poet made to say, " We ought to have our Abbey back, you 
see !" But since that might not be, the Roman Church set about 
building a cathedral for herself that should be not unworthy of 
her pretensions. The day had gone by when Catholic chapels 
did well to keep out of notice in holes and corners, where Pro- 
testant statesmen chalked up " No Popery /" but then ran away. 
Laughing in her sleeve at Ecclesiastical Titles Bills and such 
fizzling fireworks of modern Erastianism, this Church had been 
rising in the world till her prelates could present themselves in 



society with the halo of apostles to the genteel. Already, in the 
heart of fashionable London, had risen a conspicuous Oratory 
enshrining the memory of that convert who was a great English 
writer as well as an earnest believer. The site of the new Cathe- 
dral was chosen at Westminster, near enough to invite the genius 
loci, yet far enough from the old Abbey to take an attitude of 
ignoring it, and the block of building here finished in the early 
years of our century has not failed to justify Rome's time-honoured 
title as mistress of architectural arts. 

The Abbey seems inspired by English history. The Catholic 
Cathedral looks farther back and wider into the world. The 
Byzantine style, the chequered colouring of red brick and white 
stone, have an exotic effect for judges forgetful that Christianity 
was not born on British soil. The arrangement of the structure 
suggests how this Church, while clinging to traditions of the past, 
keeps a clear eye for conditions of present life. Instead of its 
internal space being broken up, frittered away, blocked by shrines 
and monuments, the Cathedral has been adapted to the worship 
of such a congregation as can be gathered in the widest and 
highest nave of any English church, a vast open space from 
which thousands of eyes can be fixed upon the altar throned 
magnificently in the sanctuary where natural and artificial light 
are focussed upon the central act of Catholic faith. Behind is 
an apse looking south, for Rome stands so sure of her position 
that she can afford to smile at the pedantry of orientation 
affected by the Anglican Church. As yet, most of the interior 
shows the plain brickwork, its very bareness helping to bring 
out the noble proportions of the edifice ; but these naked walls 
ar ! gradually to be veneered with marble and mosaic, till the 
whole surface is smoothly and warmly clad, a consummation that 
may not long be devoutly wished, when this Church has the way 
of making converts among the wealthy, whose hearts she can 
turn to munificence. Already the scheme of decoration glows in 
patches upon the rough skin, carried out first about the High 
Altar, and in the chapels that open on either side along the whole 
length of the nave. 

The first chapel to be completely invested with its tasteful 


ornament is that beside the Baptistery, on the right of the en- 
trance, a memorial and posthumous offering of the late Lord and 
Lady Brampton. In this brand-new shrine, a heretic may well 
linger to admire the effect of graceful design and harmonious 
colour of rich materials ; yet also he cannot but be moved to 
thoughts out of keeping with the text, De mortuis. The founder, 
better known as Sir Henry Hawkins, was not renowned in his 
lifetime for piety and strict morality, either when he figured as 
insigne moestis prcesidium reis or when he sat upon the bench 
with more sternness than dignity. One need not rake up un- 
savoury gossip that used to be thrown upon his doorstep. Shortly 
before his death there was published, at least with his approval, 
a book given forth as his memoirs. By this time at ease within 
the bosom of the Church to which he turned at the eleventh 
hour, he still chuckles over a cynical and worldly view of life, and 
lets religion appear rather as matter for pleasantry. He tells 
us as a good joke that in early life, when he had time to say his 
prayers, he sometimes caught himself addressing them to " Gentle- 
men of the Jury," upon which a bar- wit remarked how thus 
Hawkins showed himself so far orthodox as to be no Unitarian. 
He declares that in those days he was never so happy as when 
he had saved the life or liberty of some scoundrelly client by 
hoodwinking judges, bamboozling juries, and bullying innocent 
witnesses, as he explains without a touch of shame. By such 
arts he is said to have earned the largest fortune made at the 
Bar by any of his competitors, one of whom, noted for his sharp 
tongue, thus worded a contradictory boast, " I made the most 
money ever made at the bar — honestly." A fellow-judge is 
credited with a blunt jest on what would happen in the next 
world to Hawkins's money, laid out after all with an eye to 
spiritual advantage. Law and justice this legal bravo seems to 
have looked upon as a profitable game, and the best thing to be 
said of him is that on the bench he showed zeal for the rules of 
the sport, turning to good account his long-sharpened experience 
as detector and defender of knaves. Is such a memory so easily 
transmuted into a sight of beauty, or an offering acceptable to 
Heaven ? 


But it is well not to be too curious in looking into the origin^ 
of sacred art. Money wrung from tortured Jews went to build 
Westminster Abbey ; the masterpieces of Raphael and Michael 
Angelo cost many a son to the Church ; and the riches of the 
Anglican Establishment were often due to miserable sinners who 
made a bad bargain, since for centuries they have had never a 
prayer for their uncleansed souls. So let us leave the chapels 
of this new Cathedral to be hallowed in the years to come by 
pure and humble hearts better than by gilding and precious 
3 tone. The formal consecration of the whole fabric came to be 
delayed for several years by a canon, not observed in all com- 
munions, that such a sacrifice should be free from the blemish 
of debt. 

I must not lead the reader into crypts of controversy, but the 
stifEest-kneed heretic may pay toll of sixpence to ascend the 
campanile, for a prospect over miles of roofs, bristling with the 
numberless towers and spires that mark the broken ranks of 
Protestantism through which the Church of Rome, strong in her 
flexible armour and her firm discipline, seems to march like a 
Macedonian phalanx. This graceful tower, where St. Simon 
Stylites might have a pleasant time of it in summer, is nearly 
three hundred feet high, and by its slender isolation deludes one 
with an appearance of greater height than the Clock Tower's 
and the Victoria Tower's, both of them its superiors in fact. 
Other eminent structures, like that of Buckingham Palace and 
the huge block of Queen Anne's Mansions, give more variety to 
its view than to that from St. Paul's or the Monument. Now 
that the Great Wheel at Earl's Court has yielded to the whirligig 
of time, there is no better point of vantage for looking over the 
show side of London, greenly dappled by the parks of the West- 


The hotel quarter overlaps another in which the chief houses of 
entertainment are not open to all the world, even with money in 
its pocket. In the streets from Charing Cross to the Marble Arch 
if the inquiring stranger pause before any palatial building, the 
chances are that it will turn out to be a club. There are clubs 
thriving on the east side of Trafalgar Square, but on the line of 
Pall Mall and St. James's Street will be found strung most of those 
" magnificent public-houses in which men club together to obtain 
good cookery," and their citadel is the quadrilateral on other 
sides bounded by Piccadilly and the Haymarket, making what 
Theodore Hook called " the real London." 

In one of Carlyle's random excursions into philology, he derives 
the word club from Gelilbde, a vow ; but sober dictionaries do 
not trust themselves beyond the notion of a conglomeration of 
some branch of human nature. All over the world, indeed, man- 
kind has shown a readiness to clump itself in little knots of 
fellowship, orders, guilds, secret societies, or what not, bound 
by vows, subscriptions, or common interests. The political life 
of Carlyle's forefathers was specially apt to run into bands of 
men who, for the moment, thought alike about the Common- 
wealth ; and in his country golf -clubs appear of very early date, 
in more senses than one. As a body of congenial spirits, how- 
ever, meeting together for social cheer, the club seems to be a 
particularly English institution. One can imagine Cedric the 
Saxon and Athelstane foregathering with their cronies for 
carouses of ale and mead, from which such neighbours as Reginald 
Front-de-Bceuf and Brian de Bois-Guilbert were likely to be 



The first notable London club was that held at the " Mermaid," 
in Broad Street, said to have been founded by Raleigh, and made 
famous by the wit combats of Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, 
compared by Fuller to a high-built Spanish galleon and a hardy 
English frigate, " lesser in bulk, but lighter in sailing.' ' Their 
material refreshments are adumbrated by Ben Jonson as " To- 
bacco, nectar, or the Thespian spring," all in due moderation, 
we are to believe, in spite of the legend that Shakespeare's early 
death followed hard on a tavern bout with some of his old boon 

Nor shall our cups make any guilty men, 
But at our parting we will be as when 
We innocently met. No simple word 
That shall be uttered at our mirthful board, 
Shall make us sad next morning, or affright 
The liberty that we'll enjoy to-night. 

Another club, set agoing by Ben Jonson under the name of the 
Apollo, was held at the " Devil " tavern, beside Temple Bar. 
One hardly understands whether these meetings were " tyled," 
in the masonic sense, by any form of election ; but no doubt 
means would be taken to exclude unworthy members, such as 
might not lightly intrude into the parlour " used " by a knot of 
village politicians or neighbour tradesmen. A leading case of 
what may be called the rudimentary club, a mere cell and stomach 
organization of social protoplasm, was that which Mr. Sam 
Weller entered as an honorary member at Bath, its members 
vouched for by a very distinctive costume. At a later date, I 
have heard veteran Bohemians tell how the nucleus of a celebrated 
fraternity was in a public-house, nominally open to all the world, 
but if ever an outsider unwittingly strayed in among those choice 
spirits, they would break into such mad antics that the non- 
initiated one made haste to escape from what he took for an 
anteroom of Bedlam. 

Their note of conviviality appears to have thrown such clubs 
into the background throughout the Puritan domination, when 
the Rev. Hugh Peters, on turning his preacher's hour-glass, would 
playfully exclaim : "I know you to be jolly dogs ; we'll take 


t'other glass !" The Stigginses and Chadbands of the period 
were not, indeed, without creature comforts on their meetings ; 
but we have an early hint of temperance principles in scruples 
which the austere settlers of New England soon raised as to the 
use of " strong waters," and of that " sot weed " which the 
colonial fathers did not approve unless as taken " privately by 
ancient men," and for " the preservation of their healths," while 
even among heathen red-skins, we learn, though the men smoked 
too much tobacco, " for boys so to do they account it odious." 
The clubs of the Commonwealth time met rather for stern and 
serious confabulation. 

Before the Restoration the first coffee-house had been set up 
in London, where tea also was soon to be tasted as a novel 
luxury. The name " club " first appears about the same time ; 
then the growing use of hot drinks proved a stimulus to social 
meetings that looked higher than mere fellowship in besotment. 
The " coffee-room " of our hotels and clubs is a record of this 
change in manners. We now hear of gatherings at coffee-houses 
and chocolate-houses, where " Glorious John " might be beheld 
in the flesh by country cousins, or some other approved wit 
would sit to " give his little senate laws " of good taste. The 
company naturally tended to differentiation. Men of letters 
were to be looked for at Will's or Buttons', parsons at Child's, 
stock-jobbers at Jonathan's, medical men at Garroway's. Whig 
and Tory, of course, had their own resorts, such as the St. James's 
on the one side, the Cocoa-Tree on the other. One common 
ground they had as " founded upon eating and drinking, which 
are points wherein most men agree, and in which the learned and 
illiterate, the dull and the airy, the philosopher and the buffoon, 
can all of them bear a part." The Beefsteak eaters and the 
October-ale drinkers took a name from their favourite fare, as 
a mutton-pie maker, Christopher Cat, perhaps as mythical as 
Whittington's puss, is said to have stood godfather to the cele- 
brated Kit-Cat Club, which at one time had quarters in the house 
of Jacob Touson the publisher, Barn Elms, now occupied by the 
Ranelagh Club. The best-remembered of these bodies were apt 
sooner or later to take on a political character, sometimes avowed 


from the first by their title, as in the case of the Calves Head 
Club. Humbler ones might confine themselves to mere good- 
fellowship. We need not take Addison an pied de la lettre when 
he enumerates a Hum-Drum Club, a Mum Club, an Ugly Club, a 
Club of Fat Men, and so on ; but there were several held together 
by very queer bonds of membership, along with others that show 
our modern clubs in embryo. 

While smaller, clubs would seem to have been then more 
numerous in proportion to the population, if the Spectator tell 
truly of " Street Clubs," at which neighbours came together 
nightly for a cheerful glass. Later on we hear of clubs affecting 
a uniform, like the blue coat faced with red of the sublime Society 
of Beefsteaks, at one time so noted for their strong-stomached 
and rough-tongued carousals. Mr. Pickwick's Club, it will be 
remembered, adopted a distinctive button. Goldsmith's account 
of modest clubs in his day represents that " no passport was 
requisite " except " my landlord's good word " and the payment 
of from fourpence to two shillings — " according to the style of the 
place and the quality of the liquor," to quote a more recent 
humorist. A chairman or a " Grand," mallet in hand, presided 
at the head of the table, and conviviality flowed till the host gave 
notice that the club-money was " drank out," when the jovial 
souls must disperse unless they chose to " whip for a double 
reckoning." Such clubs we read of, a century later, as having 
a Mr. Lowton or a Mr. Richard Swiveller for their life and soul. 
Debating clubs, also, like the " Cogers " of our day, were fre- 
quented by eighteenth-century men-about-town, one of the best 
known the " Robin Hood," at which Burke practised speaking. 
From Robert Smith's journal, it appears that anyone could enter 
this forum and take part in its debates on payment of sixpence, 
while there was a " Society " forming a nucleus of oratory. For 
coffee-house frequenters, the word " member " now occurs, but 
this probably meant no more than the Stamm-gast of a German 
beer Lokal. 

A further development in the eighteenth century was a land- 
lord setting apart rooms or erecting special buildings for a 
privileged body of customers, who thus became an exclusive club 


in the modern sense. Such more highly organized clubs took the 
name of the host — White's, Arthur's, or Boodle's. One was 
originally started by a canny McCall, butler to Lord Bute, who 
disguised his unpopular nationality as Almack ; and when he 
transferred this alias to the more celebrated dancing-rooms, his 
other venture was taken on by one Brooks, a money-lender, in 
whose name it won high position as Whig rival to the Tory 
White's, that originally stood opposite it in St. James's Street. 
These were, in fact, what we now call proprietary clubs. Also, 
for the most part, they seem to have been little better than 
gambling-rooms, which a member could hardly use without 
dropping some money for the good of the house. The proprietor 
was styled the manager or " master " of the club. Only towards 
the end of the century was this post put into commission at 
Brooks's by the appointment of six managers from among the 
members, a junto that by-and-by took the style of Committee. 

Clubs of this class were aristocratic resorts, in which only men 
of family or fashion had a chance of ruining themselves, as they 
often did. The chronicle of club life was far from edifying, even 
in the article of good manners, if it be true that at Brooks's, 
during George III.'s insanity, members would talk of " playing 
the lunatic " in the presence of the " First Gentleman of Europe." 
It was not uncommon for reckless gamesters to lose thousands 
or tens of thousands in a single night. Suicides were scandalously 
frequent, as at the Continental gaming-tables in our own time. 
Beau Brummell is said to have won twenty-six thousand pounds 
at whist at a sitting, and Charles Fox to have played hazard for 
nearly two rounds of the clock, rising a loser of eleven thousand 
pounds. Horace Walpole gossips of one hundred and eighty 
thousand pounds staked on a single cast. One Nabob paid his 
footing in such society by losing, it is said, ninety thousand pounds 
in a night. Hogarth satirizes club-gamblers as absorbed in their 
game when the house was on fire. At one club that stood on the 
site of the present Marlborough, an anteroom was nicknamed 
the " Jerusalem Chamber," because there waited Hebrew money- 
lenders ready to " accommodate " gentlemen against whom luck 
had gone through the night. The Earl of Sandwich, known to 



his generation as " Jemmy Twi tcher," pour cause, is said to have 
invented sandwiches as a form of refreshment that let him sit 
night and day at the play-table. 

Wattier's was another noted hell, patronized by the Prince 
Regent, but its life was proved short : " the pace was too good 
to last." The last of the old gambling clubs was Crockford's — 
a name that has now such different associations — set up opposite 
White's, according to T. Raikes, by an ex-" leg " at Newmarket, 
who " won all the disposable money of the men of fashion in 
London," and died 1844, worth the best part of a million, after 
heavy losses in various speculations. A flattering view of 
" Crocky " appears as " Mr. Bond Sharpe " in one of Disraeli's 
novels, which represents him as a most accommodating friend to 
young heirs. Lord Lamington, in his Days of the Dandies, says 
that in his time, when the chef had eight hundred pounds a year, 
a supper was provided gratis at Crockford's from 12 to 5 a.m. 
during the Parliamentary session, and that members who, like 
himself, ate but did not play, were in the way of throwing a ten- 
pound-note on the table at the end of the season. " But that 
was really conscience money. No one inquired, asked for it, or 
perhaps even noticed it." 

The clubs that had conversation and good fellowship as their 
raison d'etre were thrown into the background of those exclusive 
unions for heady dissipation. The Dilettanti Society, formed 
1734, was the exceptional case of an association with the purpose 
of fostering the fine arts, that then got poor patronage from Mr. 
John Bull. Later on a band of travelled innovators formed the 
Savoir Vivre Club, whose home ended as a tavern with its sign 
corrupted as the " Savoy Weaver." The Royal Society and the 
Royal Literary Fund began life as clubs with a purpose. The 
first subscription club clearly on record, for gentlemen of all 
classes, hired two rooms for itself at Tom's Coffee-House. The 
subscription was only a guinea, but as men of family mixed here 
with such notabilities as Johnson, Goldsmith, Garrick, Foote, 
and the unfortunate Dr. Dodd, this looks like the germ of club 
life according to modern ideas. 

The doyen of existing club-houses appears to be White's, built 


1781, on its present site at the top of St. James's Street, to accom- 
modate two bodies known as the Old Club and the Young Club, 
who had White, or his successor, as their joint caterer. Half a 
century before, Gay's Trivia had distinguished " White's " as 
one of the noted stations at which " the harnessed chairman idly 
stands." Forty years later was built the Union in Trafalgar 
Square, said to be the first large club all along owned and managed 
by its members. But this plan of joint-stock enterprise soon 
approved itself, so that the old proprietary clubs changed their 
constitution for what became the rule in those that sprang up 
thickly after Waterloo, such as the Travellers, the Athenaeum, 
the Oriental, the Garrick, the Political, University, and Service 
Clubs, some of them with their " Juniors " more or less legitimate 
in relationship. Most of the first-class clubs date from the genera- 
tion in which Princess Victoria grew up. Not that all those then 
started have kept their name and fame : Crockf ord's, the gambling- 
den of the Regency, now houses the sober spirits of the Devon- 
shire. The Alfred, a precursor of the Athenaeum, that did not 
escape Cockney satire as the " Half -read," but had Byron and 
other notabilities among its members, dwindled away till it was 
fain to let itself be absorbed into the Oriental. All this neigh- 
bourhood is haunted by the ghosts of dead clubs. 

By the Reform time there were so many fashionable clubs 
that T. Raikes accuses them of draining the salons, a form of 
sociability flourishing better across the Channel. Up to Thack- 
eray's period, clubs had been a luxury of the few. The next two 
generations, among other co-operative enterprises, brought forth 
a great crop of new clubs, some of them in size at least over- 
shadowing the old ones ; and in our time the original speculation 
of proprietary managers has been revived to open many clubs 
that were apt to be short-lived. But new ones, of both sorts, 
are always coming forward to accommodate all classes and 
interests, till the compilation of a complete list would be a for- 
midable task. Diplomats, Civil Servants, Anglo-Indians, en- 
gineers, actors, artists, and even authors, have their own clubs, 
more or less thriving. There are clubs for the amateurs of various 
sports, from chess to automobilism ; clubs whose strong point is 


cookery or card-playing, as the case may be ; clubs of every shade 
of politics ; then, of course, innumerable workmen's clubs, some 
of which seem no better than unlicensed public-houses. 

The nicknames of clubs, affectionate or satirical, make another 
consideration. We have all heard of the " Rag," an abbrevia- 
tion of " Rag and Famish," which seems frankly adopted by its 
own members, now that the obscure jest in which it arose is half- 
forgotten. Another Service club is known, at least to cabmen, 
as the " In and Out," from the short entrance-drive behind which 
it stands back from Piccadilly, where it was originally built for 
the Duke of Cambridge, and became for a time the home of Lord 
Palmerston. Not far from this is a club formed by public school- 
men, whose first members seemed so young that it was playfully 
christened the Creche. The Athenaeum and the United Service, 
facing one another from opposite corners of Pall Mall, have long 
been good neighbours, exchanging hospitalities in the dull season, 
when they alternately close for repairs ; but this alliance does not 
prevent them from bandying little jokes against each other. The 
Major-General's complaint of his umbrella being not safe from 
the bishops is too hoary for quotation. It seems that those 
warriors had the idea of nicknaming the Athenaeum " Bishops- 
gate," to which the sons of Minerva retorted with " Cripplegate, " 
a reproach more pointed in days when only veterans got into the 
" Senior." On another military club an attempt was once made 
to fix the epithet " Billingsgate," its members having too audibly 
served in Flanders. When Trollope dubbed a fictitious club the 
" Bear-garden," he probably had a real one in view which deserved 
that name. One of the happiest sobriquets suggested for a club 
involves a pun not obvious to every John Bull. It was among 
the earliest of ladies' clubs, started by Mr. Russell, an active 
entrepreneur in this and other fields. Eventually it flowered 
as the "Lotus," but one of the names proposed was the 
" Russell," which invited the waggish translation Frou-frou. 

One has to know one's London very intimately to be at home 
in Clubland. The pride of such palaces makes a point of displaying 
no name ; it is taken for granted that anyone having business at 
the Marlborough, or the Carlton, can pick it out from its neigh- 


bours. I shall never forget the courteous contempt with which I 
was received by the porter of Brooks's, when I once strayed into 
that select hall, mistaking it for the premises of the " Mushroom " 
close at hand. The stranger may well be puzzled to identify each 
flight of steps, up which he sees some inconspicuous gentleman 
passing with an air of possession, and wonders if it be a millionaire 
or a duke, who is as like to be a briefless barrister. And one may 
be a lifelong Londoner without having clear discrimination in the 
character of London clubs, or the chances of N's or M's being 
able to become a thousandth-part owner of this or that one. 

To get into a good club seems beyond the ambition of many 
aspirants, whose modesty may play them false. Truth to tell, 
some imposing clubs are not so exclusive as in former days ; 
some are even fain to go out into the highways to look for not 
objectionable recruits. There has of late been a slump in club 
prosperity. The " week-end " habit, the freer use of restaurants, 
and other causes have gone to reduce the receipts of clubs, whose 
rents tend to rise. Over several, that are not in the secure 
position of freehold ownership, hangs the sword of a lease to be 
renewed, when they may be put to ransom for a new term of life, 
or have to look out for another home, not easily found within the 
close-packed bounds of Clubland. Then club credit is a delicate 
thing easily blown upon. A club that gets into the slightest 
difficulties is in a parlous state, as bankers are shy of making 
advances to such a nssiparous body, while its honorary officials 
can seldom be expected to pledge their personal credit for debts 
hard to collect from all legally responsible. The very crack of a 
" whip " starts a stampede, and it proves practically impossible 
to tether a scampering herd of members to their share of the 
deficit. Clubs sometimes live on the subscriptions of sleeping 
members, who have ceased to take much interest in the haunt of 
their younger days, but from laziness or old sake's sake forbear 
to cancel a standing order at their bankers', till a change in the 
terms of subscription puts the weapon in their hands, and stirs 
them into resignation. Another matter that may weigh upon the 
welfare of clubs is a regime of old fogies, slow to recognize changes 
in vogue and custom. 


From one cause or another, if all stories be true, several once 
exclusive clubs have to face a dwindling list of candidates, and 
can exist only by lowering their standard of membership. Certain 
clubs, it appears, have taken a fresh lease of prosperity by 
changing their character, widening their constituency, or adding 
some fresh convenience to club life, such as bedrooms for country 
members. Others can still hold up their heads as in a position 
to give a social certificate by admission to their penetralia. Few, 
indeed, unless in the case of strictly professional or expressly 
limited clubs, live up to their nominal qualifications. Not every 
member of the Athenaeum is interested in literature, science, or 
art ; not every habitue of the Reform is a zealous Liberal. There 
was one club, professing itself a stronghold of what may be called 
Evangelical Toryism, where the spirit of patrons like the philan- 
thropic Lord Shaftesbury ruled so strongly that prayers were 
read morning and evening by the senior divine present in the 
house. But this function, one understands, was not numerously 
attended; and one has known members of that lately uprooted 
club who, in their hearts, were far from being loyal adherents 
of the Protestant Church and State views dear to its pious 

If it be asked, how one passes these jealously-guarded portals, 
the answer is, mainly by help of friends and connections. Mr. 
Arthur Pendennis is in youth put down by his uncle at the 
" Polyanthus " or the " Sarcophagus," and in fulness of time, 
unless meanwhile he has brought himself into notable disgrace 
or unpopularity with his world, he finds himself a member of that 
select body. Men born with a silver spoon in their mouths, or 
who have learned to use a silver fork at public school or Uni- 
versity, must blame themselves if they find much hindrance to 
entering the club that suits their circumstances. Others less 
favoured by fortune may have to lay long siege to the hoped-for 
haven. They are content to begin with less exclusive clubs that 
serve them as trenches of approach ; they make social alliances ; 
they mount ladders of opportunity, till at length, if their ambition 
be not pitched too high, they may find themselves within the 
walls of a citadel that once seemed to frown impregnably. Early 


social advantages have this strong pull, that at some clubs a 
candidate does not come up for election for a long term of years, 
and if he must spend half his life in the achievement of a standing 
in the world, he may have one foot in the grave before he attains 

The rules of club elections, of course, vary. One club of 
Bohemian antecedents is said to have the peculiar and practical 
custom that a candidate proposed becomes a quasi-member for a 
month, his election being in time confirmed or annulled when he 
has shown what manner of man he is : scandal asserts that only 
teetotal habits avail for final exclusion. But the ordeal inmost 
cases takes one of two forms, balloting by the whole body of 
members, or selection by the Committee. The former is the 
most common ; the latter perhaps works best in the hands of a 
conscientious Committee, supposed to act on letters in which the 
candidate's friends set forth his merits and qualifications. Some 
clubs can afford to be so exigeant that a single veto is fatal ; and 
the procedure becomes practically a picking out of the most 
promising or best supported candidates from a list perhaps ten 
times as numerous as the vacancies. 

In such a case no stigma marks those rejected for want of 
room, or through pressure of competition, while the most thick- 
skinned man thinks twice before exposing himself to be " pilled " 
at a general ballot. Yet here blackballing is usually the excep- 
tion, since a man of the world would hardly put himself up for 
such a club without counting on friends enough to pull him 
through. His time of suspense lasts from months to a decade or 
two, according to the relation between the club's waiting list and 
the wastage among its members. As his turn approaches, his 
proposer gets notice to whip up support ; or if, as may well be, 
the proposer have meanwhile gone before the judgment of Minos, 
the candidate has a chance to seek a new sponsor. It may or 
may not be the custom, during some days before the election, to 
exhibit his name on a card to be endorsed by friends and f urtherers. 
On the fateful day, when a company of names is led out for election 
together, the well-wishers of each go about among the members 
canvassing for votes, and, less openly, there may be carried on 


a canvass for black balls. At a certain hour the balls are publicly 
counted, a scene sometimes of suppressed excitement when a 
dubious election is on. Oftenest a man's friends can put him 
out of pain by letter or telegram. In a contrary event, they have 
to explain away the misfortune as best they can ; ftien as little 
more as may be is said about the matter. Not everyone cares 
openly to proclaim his failure, as did that too notorious epigram- 
matist who, when rejected by a club that is the cynosure of 
young authors, professed to congratulate himself on not being 
" one lion in a den of Daniels." 

The blackballed one may take comfort in considering how a 
certain element of chance enters into such elections. The 
accident of a foggy day, or a bronchitic season, may make a con- 
siderable difference in the voting among a constituency of elderly 
members. Enmity being more active than goodwill, and one 
black ball being equal to several white ones, such accidents will 
tell against the candidate. In clubs there is apt to be a knot 
of crabbed old fogies inclined to blackball every unknown 
personality. Then everyone has made some enemies, all the 
more if he be a man of individuality and activity. Each ostra- 
cizer outweighs a little troop of supporters, who cannot be relied 
on to put themselves about unless for real friends. Cases are 
not infrequent when an unfortunate candidate suffers for no fault 
but the unpopularity of his proposer. Some quarter of a century 
ago there was great talk over the rejection of a member of 
Parliament at a certain political club, and the wicked rumour 
ran that it was the fault of the late Duke of Devonshire's being 
such a stranger in the house that he could not find his way to 
the scene of election. At the same club, after the Unionist split, 
there was a deadlock, each faction making a point of blackballing 
the other's candidates, till a concordat had to be made to save 
the club from starving. Certain classes of men, at certain clubs, 
are said to be handicapped ; sailors, for instance, who on the 
ocean wave have not had opportunity to make acquaintances 
in town. One has noticed that doctors are rather inclined to 
" pill " each other, but that the clergy stand by their cloth. 
As a rule the safest passport to club life is a golden mean of good 


name. It is one distinguished among his fellows, for good or 
evil, who gives the best mark for black balls. 

Once, and only once, I have assisted at an election where a 
candidate proved not to have a single adverse vote. More often 
one has seen an aspirant's fate hung in the balance, where an 
indulgent calculation could tip up the scale. I could tell of an 
election turned by a vote that was doubtful to the last moment, 
when a spiteful canvasser con moved one voter to act pro. There 
is a story of a man being elected through the zeal of an enemy, 
and this seems to be no mere legend, since it led to an alteration 
of rule at more than one club. The rule was that at least twenty 
members must vote, one black ball in ten excluding. Nineteen 
members had voted for the candidate, when in hot haste came 
his opponent — having travelled, of course, from the other end 
of the kingdom — to give a black ball. That hostile vote won the 
election. Against this case may be set the perhaps apocryphal 
one of the bullying duellist Fitzgerald, for whom at Brooks's 
not a single white ball was cast, but as when challenged by him 
no member would own to having put in a black ball, he took 
on himself to proclaim his own election. 

Sometimes the Committee has power to correct or neglect the 
judgments of the ballot-box, and to abridge the term of candi- 
dature by electing per saltum a certain number of distinguished 
men. At the Athenseum, Bishops, Judges, and Cabinet Ministers 
can claim such summary election ; hence the profane tales that 
make this club to be specially flavoured with episcopacy. Men 
have got into a club thus by the grande entree who could not depend 
on passing the ordeal of the ballot-box. 

Once elected, and his dues paid, the new member has only to 
make himself known to the hall-porter, then to be at home in 
the house so far as allowed by the rules, which do not much differ 
in most good clubs. The porter is an important official, whose 
services call for admiration : a passable Member of Parliament is 
more easily secured than an efficient club-porter. He must 
have a royal talent for remembering faces, for among hundreds 
of members, often absent for years at all ends of the world, he 
is supposed, at a glance, to recognize each of his flock, however 



bearded, scarred, or sun-tanned. He should not only be familiar 
with the faces of members, but have some acquaintance with 
their ways of life, their associations, and perhaps with certain 
delicate considerations that come into play in dealing with their 
visitors. He has the handling of their correspondence, the outside 
of which may give him matter for shrewd speculation. Many 
a man stands in secret awe of the porter, whose cue is to treat 
him with outward deference. He is a discreet Recording Angel 
as well as a guardian at the gate of this paradise. His point of 
view is, of course, a special one, regarding man only qua club 
member. A fellow-clubman of mine having got married, another 
member asked the porter if So-and-so still came to the club, and 
was gravely answered : " He used to come every day, sir ; but 
of late he has become very irregular in his habits I" 

Robertson Smith declared that, when he went to a certain 
dignified club, not wearing the orthodox high hat, the porter, 
by way of silent rebuke, would pretend not to recognize him. 
This story illustrates a change in fashion, for now half the head- 
gear displayed in that club's hall would not have passed muster 
with the respectability of a decade or two back. The hat used 
to figure more in club life, for old members of some clubs still 
keep up a custom which was once the rule, of wearing their hats 
even in the coffee-room, a custom honoured in the breach among 
younger members and in new clubs. When the first of the big 
popular clubs of our generation came to be opened, a well- 
known novelist, who thought to show himself at home in this 
sphere, had the mortification of being requested to take off his 
hat in the reading-room. Twice I myself, by force of habit, have 
thoughtlessly offended in this sort, once in a foreign Kursaal, 
till I saw the horrified natives gazing on me as if I had been a 
blood-bolter ed ghost ; and once in a low-class Chicago theatre, 
where I strayed into the back of the gallery to look about me for 
a few minutes ; then the official in charge could beam with 
satisfaction in calling a Britisher to order on a point of manners. 
There comes to my mind a German waiter who wished me to 
understand him as not wholly unfamiliar with our ways. " I 
have lived in Hamburg: the people there are the same as the 


English — they sit down in the restaurant with their hats 

A club is apt to be a focus of Conservatism, where changes 
of custom make slow way. One that in our time has overcome 
protracted resistance is the victory of tobacco, with a crowned 
head as leader. Parson Adams and Dr. Parr smoked their pipes 
freely ; but that vulgarity was long tabooed in genteel circles. 
After the Peninsular War had brought cigars into vogue among 
gay bachelors, they were still banished from family life, so that 
the Marquis of Farintosh, when about to marry Miss Ethel 
Newcome, gave away his to his j^ounger brother. Lady Dorothy 
Nevill can remember how the Duke of Sutherland was the first 
gentleman seen smoking a cigar in the Park, and how this scandal 
was spoken of as a social earthquake. From my own youth I 
recall a whispered rumour that our bishop every night smoked 
one pipe in solemn secrecy ; but the other day I saw a prelate, 
with a short briar in his mouth, unashamed before men. This 
was in a club smoking-room, built of late years, before which 
smoking was allowed only in the billiard-room, or in some hole- 
and-corner den. At White's cigars were barred till 1845. Even 
now, in a few old-fashioned clubs, smoking may be kept some- 
what in the background, while in those built by the present 
generation tobacco is king. But, as club treasurers have reason 
to know, with the growing consumption of smoke, there has of 
late years at most clubs been a notable falling of! in wine bills. 

Another note of new clubs is a relaxation of Sabbath ob- 
servance. At most of the senior ones, I suppose, the card and 
billiard rooms are closed on Sunday ; this was certainly the case 
at the club frequented by Herbert Spencer, who on Sundays 
used to visit another, where he could play his favourite game. 
It has been my privilege to behold him so engaged, and I could 
not but observe how this psychologist offended against his own 
precept, that a good player's strokes should come as if by auto- 
matic instinct : "It is notorious that in games of skill any 
lengthened consideration or active interference on the part of 
the higher faculties almost inevitably causes a failure." But 
the philosopher rather " fancied himself " at this accomplish- 


ment ; and it is said that respectful disciples would tickle his 
foible by allowing him to win. It was not so with an old gentle- 
man I knew, of whom the story goes that when Spencer was getting 
the best of the game, he cunningly started the subject of the 
House of Lords, whereupon the synthetic sage laid down his 

cue with a sharp rebuke : " Mr. , when I play billiards, I do 

not talk about the House of Lords I" There is a famous story, 
that represents him venting his vexation at being beaten by 
a young man, in some such speech as : " Though a certain 
proficiency at this game is to be desired, the skill you have 
shown seems to argue a misspent youth I" A friend of mine 
had once the impudence to ask the great man if that story were 
authentic, when he smiled grimly, and answered by telling 
another tale, how he once travelled, unknown, beside two young 
sparks, one of whom he overheard describing himself as " stoney 
broke," and asking where he could turn to earn a living. " Get 
put up for the Athenaeum," advised his friend, " and take on 
Herbert Spencer at billiards !" 

The Athenaeum is, in fact, the last place where such a specu- 
lator could turn his gifts to account. And at most clubs no 
change is more remarkable than in what used to be the chief 
raison d'etre of club life. So-called smart society seems at present 
to be a vortex of excitement, in which gambling makes a main 
eddy ; but things are not so bad as when fine ladies made cards 
their only books, and fine gentlemen staked fortunes at Crock- 
ford's. The Stock Exchange is more ruinous than the gaming- 
table in our generation. At some clubs play is said to be too 
much the thing, and the vogue of bridge calls forth new ones 
devoted to this fascinating pastime that has rapidly ousted whist 
from its place of pride. But games of mere chance are now 
frowned on in honest clubs, and even at high places of play, like 
the Portland or the Turf, stakes will be limited by rule or custom. 

I speak as an outsider, having all my life been averse to losing 
my money, still more to winning other people's, at games of 
chance or skill, which seems to me the sane attitude amid a 
temporary relapse into savagery. But I doubt if the novelists 
know more about it, who make their heroes win a regular income 


at cards, by fair or foul play, where they have to take their 
chance of partners among a coterie of fairly good players. I 
would rather trust such an authority on the subject as the late 
Richard Proctor, who went deeply into the calculation of chances, 
and, while practising whist as a scientific game, declared it to be 
spoilt by playing for money. He used to laugh at the pretensions 
of club play, and if I remember right, he brought the advan- 
tage of skill over luck in whist, from the highest estimate of 12 
down to 5 per cent. Though he would not play for money, he 
won at the card-table a dearer prize, for, as he mentions in his 
book on the subject, " The lady who was my partner in this game, 
is now my partner for life." I once asked him what sort of game 
" Cavendish " played. " Oh, a fair game !" said he. I nevei 
had a chance to hear Cavendish's report of this opponent. 

The inveterate whist or bridge player, of course, comes to 
think well of his own skill ; but if he play regularly at a club 
for moderate stakes, he might often be able to tell us that in 
the long run this amusement proves to balance its pecuniary 
chances. On the other hand, I am told by those who ought to 
know, that some men who make a business of card-playing for 
pretty high stakes, are able to count on a steady balance of gain. 
As for outright cheating, that trick of turning up the king with 
which your Captain Rooks were credited, must have always been 
a risky one at clubs, though social reputations have thus been 
wrecked. In the bad old days of ruinous stakes and all-night 
sittings, certain members might have turned to account the 
advantage of hard heads or temperate habits. Of General Scott, 
Canning's father-in-law, reputed to have made a fortune of 
£200,000 out of whist, it is said that his art lay in keeping sober 
among sons of Belial flushed with meat and drink. Nowadays, 
if all tales be true, it is in private life rather than at club tables that 
skilful players, and partners who understand each other, can 
count on making a sure thing of their pastime. 

What I admire in club card-players is a certain moral disci- 
pline involved in their worship of fortune. Now and then one 
hears an irate old fogey break out, " Why on earth, sir, did you 
play that club ?" and the argument on such a head may grow 


heated ; but one understands that a player is barred who habitu- 
ally loses his temper along with his money. The man must 
behave under such reverses, as Thackeray's schoolboy took his 
flogging, " stoutly and in silence " ; and the same social pundit 
has pronounced that it needs more magnanimity to win than 
to lose with a good grace. An American gentleman of high social 
advantages was once made an honorary member of a club at which 
this compliment can usually be turned into full membership ; 
but when he sought such confirmation, he was amazed by repulse, 
as I heard, because in the card-room he grabbed at his winnings 
with a frank satisfaction which seemed bad form. 

The card-players of a club are usually a set apart, as also 
the billiard-players. What most members will be more or less 
concerned with is the catering department. Outsiders, peeping 
in through plate-glass windows at trimly-laid tables waited on 
by liveried menials, are apt to take a jaundiced view of club 
luxury. One day, as I was restoring nature near the window 
oi a club by which defiled a procession of demonstrating Socialists 
or the like, a sallow youth made signs to me, pointing to the flag 
above his head, that proclaimed woe to bloated aristocrats who 
fed fat on the blood of the people. All my crime, had he con- 
sidered aright, was availing myself of co-operation to take a 
simple and well-served meal at much the same price as it would 
Lave cost at a dingy eating-house. At this particular club, 
I learn from its last year's accounts, the average expenditure of 
each member for liquor was about twenty-six shillings per head ; 
and I should like to have cross-examined that reviling democrat 
a<; to how many of his mates spend so little on drink, even at one 
habitual place of resort. As a matter of fact, most club meals 
are modest enough, unless on special occasions. The day seems 
to be gone when Thackeray's skinflint could lunch for nothing 
on club bread and cheese and beer ; at all events, the only refec- 
tion I have ever known to be served gratis at a club was the non- 
exhilarating beverage of barley-water. Some habitual guests, 
indeed, are skilled in steering an economical course through the 
bill of fare, and triumphantly point out how much they can get 
for how little ; and at certain clubs some consommations are sur- 


prisingly cheap, while others seem disproportionately dear. 
The great point is that at a club one has what one wants, 
without being bound to do anything for the good of the house. 
The waiters, if one cared for their opinion, pay quite as much 
attention to the quiet old fogey, content with a chop and half a 
pint of sherry, as to the expensive gourmand who makes his dinner 
a labour of love. One character shown up by Thackeray, the 
clubman who loudly complains of his food, and keeps other 
members uncomfortable by bullying the waiters, has had his 
claws cut pretty close by such satire. 

Of course, as to luxury, there is great difference in clubs, also 
in clubmen. As some members are proud to proclaim themselves 
hogs of Epicurus, so the " Lucullus " lays itself out to be a stye 
for such, while the " Lycurgus " makes no special pretensions 
to gastronomic fame. Clubs also vary in their rules of hospitality. 
Most of them, as a chief convenience, allow their members to 
entertain friends whom, for one or other reason, one chooses 
not to take to one's home. There is at least one great club that 
strictly debars strangers from all but its entrance-hall. Of 
a neighbour, which has since relaxed so inhospitable rules, it 
used to be said that if a fellow-Christian fell in a fit at the door, 
he would be denied a glass of water. Of late some men's clubs 
have opened their doors even to lady guests upon occasion ; 
but at others, when the question came up, it was held prudent 
not to give an inch that might be stretched to an ell. 

Another matter in which clubs cherish different customs and 
traditions is the sociability of members, who in a large one may 
not have the same chance of showing such clubbable qualities as 
were desired by Dr. Johnson. I know a club at which the rule 
is that one speaks to any fellow-member without introduction. 
The members of this club have often been promoted to a more 
dignified one at which more reserve prevails ; then the story 
goes that they are apt to be snubbed for their presumption, as 
in the case of a member of the former who, on making his first 
appearance at the latter, genially remarked to a bishop that it 
was a fine day, whereupon the astonished prelate rang the bell 
for the waiter to find out what the gentleman wanted. A wag 


further reports that in like circumstances he approached a bishop 
with the view of trying the same experiment on him, but it was 
vitiated by the fact of his lordship being found fast asleep. 
Jokes about bishops are an old story in clubs, from the Regency 
days when a nobleman complained that he could not enter the 
Alfred without being reminded of his catechism, and another 
resigned when the seventeenth bishop had been elected. In 
those days, one gathers, the manners and customs that passed 
for bon ton would not always be at ease in a bishop's presence. 

Into a large club of high standing no one is likely to gain 
admittance without being already provided with acquaintances ; 
but it may well be that after years he still does not know the 
majority of the members even by name. Also, he can hardly 
fail to make new friends, especially if he frequent the card or 
billiard rooms. But, as a rule, such mere club intimacies go 
hardly further ; one may see a man day by day without knowing 
where he lives or much about him except that he is a more or 
less pleasant fellow. An exceptional fortune seems that of James 
Payn, who, when confined to the house by his last illness, found 
three club cronies always ready to make up his game at whist. 
In most cases, one has to observe what a slight ripple the death 
of a club frequenter seems to stir on the interest of his associates. 
" So-and-so is gone," and a few words make his epitaph. There 
was a man I used to talk to daily without being quite sure of his 
name or his rather singular activity in the world, as to which he 
never spoke a word at the club. One day a waiter told me of his 
death, and, when for the moment I failed to identify him, ex- 
plained : " The gentleman who always has four of whisky about 
this time." Such traits of character are indeed writ in water. 

The general tone of club intercourse, among seniors at least, 
is a tepid courtesy not apt to nurse close friendships. School- 
boys, undergraduates, young officers, who have been shaken 
up together more roughly, evolve a warmer feeling that in after 
years draws sweetness from the memory of once painful rubs. 
The clubman, bound to regard the sensibilities of others, and 
perhaps distributing his intercourse among half a dozen such 
societies, seldom works up for any of them such an affectionate 


loyalty as is called forth by a school or a regiment. The pressure 
of club life tends rather to produce a smooth surface of manners, 
in which salient features seem out of place. This is particularly 
notable in clubs which men join in their ductile years. One 
notes at such a resort how the youthful members' hair is all parted 
in precisely the same way, how their coats may all have been off 
one piece, and how their trousers hardly show the faintest pattern 
of individuality. Among old fogies, of course, who have so 
taken the measure of their world as no longer to concern them- 
selves much about its opinion, originality has fuller play ; but 
club eccentrics are rare, unless in the case of senile dotage, which 
sometimes takes unpleasant forms. 

Another nuisance is the club tyrant, who has made himself so 
much at home as to claim a certain table or chair as his own, 
and scowls at any member unwittingly encroaching on this self- 
conferred privilege. The club bully is also not unknown, a 
person very difficult to deal with in the present state of society, 
now that thick skins and brazen foreheads no longer make targets 
for a bullet. If it is sometimes difficult to get into a club, it 
often proves almost as hard to get an objectionable member out 
of it, expulsion being such a terrible weapon that it is rarely used. 
And what weapon, in this civil age, can be used against the 
club bore, whose stories we have all heard so often ? 

I have several amusing stories at the end of my pen to illustrate 
these characters, but am restrained by certain scruples that to 
some writers might seem old-fashioned. The motto of the sublime 
Society of Beefsteaks was Horace's : 

Ne fidos inter amicos 

Sit, qui dicta foras eliminet. 

Throughout this chapter I am bound, as a rule, to deal in 
generalities, and if I have blabbed a name here or there, it is one 
that has become public property. I once asked a literary gentle- 
man to dine with me at a club, who profited by the occasion to 
write a smart article about it, spiced from the conversation at 
our table. Now that popular writers make copy out of their 
own fathers and mothers, we have come a long way from the 



time when Thackeray quarrelled with Edmund Yates for turning 
their club acquaintance to journalistic account. A periodical 
edited by that pioneer of the " new journalism " once made a 
satirical attack on a club I belonged to, which was shrewdly sus- 
pected as the work of a rejected candidate. One of his chief 
charges against us was that we did not dress for dinner, and 
we could retort that he must have observed this fact from the 
top of an omnibus. It need hardly be said that scribes engaged 
in gratifying the public's taste for personal paragraphs are — 
perhaps I should say were — not likely to make welcome club 
members. Club gossip would have to be restrained in the 
presence of a chield whose business is to take notes for printing. 
As for this gossip, acoused of being vain, scandalous, and cynical, 
I will only say that a club is often the best place for hearing the 
truth, now that our ephemeral press, while it abounds in good- 
natured tittle-tattle, has to be cautious about the law of libel, 
and reflects the easy-going tolerance of an age that is more 
shocked at the use of such words as pander or harlot, than at the 
presence of these characters in circles admired by flunkeydom. 

We have been looking up to the big clubs that rise like forest 
trees, overshadowing the little bushlike gatherings from which 
they were developed. But there still flourishes a thick under- 
wood of such clublets, the liveliest to be found on the literary, 
artistic, and theatrical frontiers of Bohemia. When the Thatched 
House tavern was turned into a Civil Service club, half a century 
ago, it had accommodated some two dozen gatherings of that kind, 
besides several Freemasons' lodges. Bands of congenial spirits 
meet for bodily and mental refreshment, for more or less formal 
discussions, or as a clearing-house of common ideas and interests. 
Some of these gatherings affect queer names, and some practise 
quaint ceremonies to " prove an excuse for the glass." Some- 
times such a coterie meets in an inn ; sometimes it has rooms of its 
own ; sometimes it is an unorganized clique like one which, 
engrossing a certain room of a certain large club, with a certain 
truculent politician for its " Perpetual Grand," got the nickname 
of the " Vestry." Even the grave Royal Society contains within 
itself a club for social intercourse, for which inner circle all 



members are not held eligible. " Look at that fellow Chose," a 
loud-voiced F.R.S. once informed me ; " we never let him into 
our club." I made haste to turn the conversation, for behind 
the speaker sat Professor Chose, who got up and walked out of 
the room. The staid British Association, also, has, or had, an 
inner circle of roaring fun called the " Red Lions." Another case 
of a club within a club is the Fox Club that meets to keep alive the 
memory of an illustrious member of Brooks's. I have belonged 
to a small club that made a profitable, if rather precarious, bargain 
for itself by becoming a parasite of a large one, not very solidly 
founded, thus for years, at a much smaller subscription, getting 
the run of that club's premises as well as private quarters for 
its own meetings ; but this arrangement was naturally not 
approved by the rest of the members. 

The most distinguished sodality at whose table I ever sat was 
the " Saturday Club " dining at an hotel in Boston, where half 
the convives bore names well known on both sides the Atlantic. 
There are select gatherings in London of the same kind, as to 
whose sayings and doings few are in a position to report, as does 
Sir M. Grant Duff in his voluminous Diaries. That amateur 
of such meetings, among others, belonged to one of which I had 
the honour to be a member ; and as it has been extinct for 
many years, one may speak without indiscretion of the most 
sociable club I ever knew. This was the Century, which met 
on Wednesday and Sunday evenings, as off -nights for the Liberal 
M.P.'s who, along with progressive University Dons, were the chief 
flavour of its membership. Half a generation after its origin in 
the sixties of last century, nobody could say for certain whether 
the name was meant to denote sympathy with the spirit of a 
moving age, or a tale of members which had to be increased from 
one to three centuries. It stood in friendly, or even half -filial, 
relations with the older and more thriven Century Club of New 
York, members of each being received by the other ; and the 
same ties of reciprocal hospitality were formed between us and 
a once flourishing cenacle, the Edinburgh Evening Club. 

Mr. Frederic Harrison claims to have been the father of the 
Century Club, and gives an imposing list of its early members, 


among them Sir Charles Dilke, Professor Fawcett, Lord Morley, 
Mr. Potter, founder of the Cobden Club, Sir Leslie Stephen, 
Huxley, Tyndall, Lord Houghton, Lord Courtney, Sir George 
Trevelyan, Mark Pattison, Thorold Rogers, and Sir Wilfred 
Lawson, a group of innovators for whom an adversary wittily 
suggested as motto : Corrumpere et corrumpi sseculum vocatur. 
Legend made a duke and suchlike rejected as not up to the 
mark of membership. Mr. Harrison declares that tobacco and 
mineral waters were the only cheer provided ; but a less Spartan 
regime had come in before my time, when the high thinking as 
well as the plain living standard may have altered. Unless for 
earnestness, the Century was never so distinguished a gathering 
as an older club on the same lines, the Cosmopolitan, described in 
Trollope's Phineas Redux ; but, as members or guests, our club 
all along brought together many notable men. The club-room 
was in a court off Pall Mall, the door worked by a secret spring, 
which gave entrance a relish of mystery. No servant came to 
view ; nobody paid for such modest refreshments as were laid 
out, and it shows what manner of men we were that only now 
and then a son of Belial gave way to the temptation of free 
drinks. The chief rule was that no book, newspaper, or cards 
should be brought into the club. One could do nothing but talk 
to whomever one met. Even now I blush at the memory of 
my first visit, in callow days, when I was not a member. I 
met a gentleman who seemed to me ill instructed in public affairs, 
as to which I sought to enlighten him with the confidence of 
youth, my introducer mischievously egging me on, till we were 
interrupted by a messenger calling away this Great Unknown 
to his post as pilot of a newspaper called the Times. 

The palmy days of this club covered only a dozen years or so. 
Though one black ball slew a candidate, a goat or two got in, 
butting and bleating among the flock, that scattered all the faster 
when Sunday evening parties and amusements became more 
frequent. To show how customs have changed in a generation, 
I remember that one member was thought to show bad taste by 
making himself conspicuous in evening dress on Sundays : even 
in Pall Mall the idea was that one had been to church ; and it was 


some years later that the minister of a fashionable chapel invited 
his congregation of miserable sinners to a " dress " service. The 
Century, whose finances had been managed on a rather happy-go- 
lucky plan, fell into slight difficulties, the settling of which cost 
it more members. It had to eke out its income by letting the 
rooms on off-nights to other societies, at least one of which has 
proved more tenacious of life. Finally it died in childbirth, 
bringing forth not only a giant son, but a new family of clubs 
that now thrives mightily. This birth has been so misrepresented 
that I take leave to register an event in which I had a hand. 

A member of the Century who might say pars magna fui has 
been now silenced, the late Mr. Arthur Williams, sometime M.P. 
for Glamorgan. He it was who conceived the idea of a large 
popular Liberal club, with a small subscription, taking in members 
from all over the country, who, since only a proportion of them 
might be expected to use the club at one time, could be counted 
in thousands rather than in hundreds, to be chosen more for 
political than social qualifications. I remember how his efforts 
to draw us into the adventure of founding such a club had at first 
a lukewarm reception ; but soon he found backers in men who 
saw here a chance of grinding their own axes to hew out for them- 
selves a seat in Parliament. The Century Club appointed a com- 
mittee to consider the proposal. We resolved to push on the 
scheme, which, on being ventilated in other quarters, quickly 
gathered such a body of support as to indicate a " felt want." 
Mr. Williams's scheme became a fait accompli, and when the 
temporary club-house was opened at a corner of Trafalgar Square, 
he was invited to sleep the first night in it as father of the club. 

By this time, of course, the matter had grown out of the 
hands of the Century Club, which killed itself in cradling such a 
lusty infant. Some of our members — Samuel Butler, the author 
of Erewhon, for one — called themselves Conservatives, or held 
our Liberalism to be a matter of thought rather than of action. 
Several of these resigned as a protest against our dealings with 
Radicalism ; others took the excuse of dropping off from a club 
that had seen its best days. When the National Liberal Club 
arose in lordly halls, the dwindled Century asked it for a room 


to meet in once a week, and was refused on the excuse of our not 
being purged from Toryism, so that ungrateful child came into 
the world beside a parent's death-bed. 

In spite of such guilt of parricide, the National Liberal Club 
throve apace ; then its pride soon tempted to denial of its origin. 
There was a monster in those days known as the Caucus, dwelling 
in a cave at Birmingham, much dreaded by Metropolitan Whigs. 
The story went that this ogre had begotten the young giant who 
sprang full grown into club life. So far from such a story being 
true, I recall how in the preliminary pourparlers, the one section 
of the advanced Liberal party that held aloof from the scheme 
was that Birmingham group, aware that it threatened the trans- 
ference of the Caucus' power from the Midlands to London. 
At its old home the master of that monster has since trained it 
to more courtly paces. Soon after the founding of the National 
Liberal Club came the Unionist dissension, that weeded out of 
it some of its sprinkling of Century members. But the Century 
itself, after its death, continued to visit the glimpses of the moon 
as a fitful Sunday dining club called the Dominicans, who, I 
believe, still hold together as a small band of brothers, without 
any creed but that of comradeship. 

The National Liberal Club no longer remembers the rock from 
which it sprung. And its history has suffered still greater per- 
version. Not long ago a newspaper article put forward the 
Constitutional as the first club of this kind, copied by the National 
Liberal and others. The fact is precisely the reverse. One 
remembers how, when the National Liberal was started, Con- 
servatives and some Liberals joined to mock at it — the scandalous 
stories of a member being caught picking a waiter's pocket, and 
of the Committee having to make rules for elementary points of 
manners. Then as soon as it was seen to be a success, the other 
party imitated it in a club that, to tell the truth, soon overgrew 
its prototype. Conservatives prove more at home in club life 
than Liberals ; and even their Junior Constitutional shows an 
imposing front to Piccadilly, while the senior club of that name 
overtops its Liberal neighbour by being able to charge a sub- 
stantial entrance fee, both of them having above five thousand 


members, with room for a thousand or so more. But while the 
Conservative party may take the credit of having invented the 
Primrose League, to be copied by their adversaries, among the 
Liberals originated this race of big clubs that are to the palaces 
of Pall Mall what a dray-horse is to a thoroughbred ; and I assert 
that its first sire was the little Century Club. 

In another respect the Century was among precursors. In its 
time G. A. Sala defined a club as a weapon used by Savages to 
keep the white women at a distance. We Centurions took 
another view by holding soirees for ladies, with oysters and chablis 
for the nonce, instead of tobacco and strong waters. There is 
an account of one of these gatherings in Mrs. Hunt's novel, The 
Leaden Casket. A good many of our members belonged to another 
club regarded in those days as a new departure, the Albemarle, 
admitting both sexes on equal terms. This proved such a success 
that several clubs took the same bisexual form, the Bath — which 
to old-fashioned minds might seem not the best ground of meeting 
between ladies and gentlemen — and the Sesame that has Ruskin 
for its patron saint. It should be said that so far back as the 
middle of the century a similar experiment had been made in 
the Whittington Club, which, I believe, proved a fiasco, not being 
so much admired by Mrs. Grundy as by Leigh Hunt. Perhaps 
Almack's should be reckoned as the first " Cock and Hen Club " 
on record, unless the Blue Stocking Club could put in a claim. 

The rule 'place aux dairies must be neglected in the history of 
clubs. It was only in the last generation of the nineteenth 
century that women began to found clubs of their own, which, 
across the Atlantic, become centres of reforming activity. Apart 
from one or two small and struggling ones, the first in England, 
so far as I know, was the Pioneer, a name fitting its membership 
of " advanced " women, who are understood to have not advanced 
in line on such questions as the wearing of knickerbockers. 
Though it had the advantage of a home in Bruton Street, given 
gratis by a zealous fosterer, this club did not flourish pecuniarily, 
yet it split up into two more successful clubs, the Pioneer and 
the Grosvenor Crescent. Since then many women's clubs have 
been started, with various qualifications, from an interest in 


domestic service to having been presented at Court ; there may 
presently be one limited to ladies who have " done time." These 
house themselves on the western frontier of Clubland, a province 
as yet chiefly populated by men. It seems doubtful if women 
take kindly to club life, pure and simple. Their clubs often offer 
such attractions as lectures, debates, propaganda, or other edifying 
functions ; and when they stoop to a mere amusement like card- 
playing, they are apt to throw themselves into it with perilous 
zest. The government of their clubs, one fears, is another weak 
point ; while in serving of tables, as might be expected, they 
appear to shine. Women can be generous, noble, mean, spiteful, 
but they are seldom fair, and when put in authority, they see no 
harm in doing kindhearted jobs for their friends. Then, like 
South American republics, their committees are prone to fall 
under the power of a more or less beneficent dictator ; so at least 
one gathers from rumours escaping through Eleusinian gates. 

The management of clubs is always a point of vital conse- 
quence. One has known cases in which a capable tyrant was 
freedom's best friend ; but this is not a healthy state of affairs. 
Members ought to take an interest in the efficient working of 
their club, and usually do so as far as grumbling at the Committee 
goes ; but, unless some great wave of discontent gather head, 
it is difficult to bring scattered swirls and eddies of opposition 
to bear. The Committee is the only organized body in the club 
which has regular opportunities of putting its heads together, 
to frame proposals of law, or to nominate candidates for what 
often proves rather co-optation than election to its conclave. 
At annual meetings private members will venture to air their 
grievances ; but there is seldom a party strong enough to turn 
out the ministry, even if prepared to carry on the government. 
Good committee-men should be picked members of the club, as 
having experience, character, leisure, and the confidence of their 
fellow-members, among whom a man will not lightly put himself 
forward for such a burdensome honour. As a matter of practice, 
the Committee tends to become a rather close junto, the affairs 
of the club falling into the hands of an oligarchy, tempered by the 
sense of moderation and rules of fair play that are seldom to seek 


among English gentlemen. Then it is well if they have shrewd- 
ness and knowledge of business enough to prevent the club being 
cheated by its caterers. 

At one club I have belonged to for some thirty years, I can 
recall only a single case of an excitingly contested election to 
the Committee. An official and a non-official candidate were 
opposed ; and I have asked their leave to mention names, as 
thereby hangs a tale. The voting between Mr. Edward Clodd 
and Mr. Brodrick Cloete resulted in a tie, then the chairman 
gave his casting-vote to the gentleman whose name stood first — 
by one letter of the alphabet. This seemed an omen of what 
happened within a few days, when Mr. Cloete's horse Paradox 
was beaten by a nose for the Derby. 

Here is my cue for speaking of the Jockey Club, the Cobden 
Club, the Four-in-Hand Club, the Automobile Club, the 
''Squadron," admiral of a whole fleet of yachting, rowing, 
swimming clubs, and other bodies that have a mission in the 
world as well as a name and sometimes a local habitation. The 
Automobile, on the site of the old War Office in Pall Mall, seems 
the largest of our club-houses, containing such a luxury as a fine 
swimming-bath and other novel features; yet it must bow its 
pride before the Jockey Club of Buenos Ayres, that, with an 
entrance fee of some £300, boasts itself the lordliest on earth. 
But perhaps clubs have been led long enough ; so, for a change, 
the reader may be asked to play to diamonds, which at the 
West-end are trumps, rather than hearts or spades, if we may 
trust moralizing novelists. 



Wise men, who are said to come from the East, may explain to 
us why the star of fashion, to which the rich and proud hitch their 
vehicles, tends to take its way westward. One of the commonest 
place-names in England, indeed, is Sutton, but Weston is also 
frequent, whereas Nortons and Eastons are much rarer. So 
strong is the tug of the West, that this end of any city seems 
aptest to win a repute as its choicest quarter, its Champs Elysees, 
its Pera, cut off by a social gulf from the Stamboul of business. 
Even at our holiday resorts, witness Brighton, Eastbourne, and 
Hastings, it is the western horn that tends to be exalted as more 

The growth of this side of London is an old story. Lords 
and prelates once lived snug within the walls of the City, then 
stretched their mansions along the banks of the Thames towards 
Westminster. Covent Garden and Lincoln's Inn Fields were 
the first squares of gentility, dating from Inigo Jones. Blooms- 
bury, Soho, and St. James's Squares arose under Charles II. 
Hanoverian princes, while waiting to occupy St. James's or 
Kensington, were still content to house themselves near Charing 
Cross. But by Pall Mall and Piccadilly the tide of fashion set 
westward, ebbing out of Leicester Square as in our own day 
we see the family mansions of St. James's Square dried up into 
clubs and offices. Berkeley Square was begun when Lord 
Burlington built his house as the last in Piccadilly, to have his 
view westward presently blocked by the Duke of Devonshire, who 
again was cut out by Lord Coventry at what is now Brick Street. 
Still farther west, where Apsley House in time came to stand, 
the tavern which welcomed Squire Western on his way from 




Somerset took the sign of the "Hercules' Pillars," as marking 
the end of a known world. 

Mayfair, thus invaded, had been a rather disreputable neigh- 
bourhood, noted for its vulgar market, of which a fragment still 
holds out behind the clubs of Piccadilly, and for a chapel that, 
like that of the Fleet, did scandalous business in irregular 
marriages. But George III.'s reign saw this ragged outskirt 
reformed to become the most fashionable district of London, 
with Grosvenor Square as its new centre, while across Oxford 
Street Portman Square made the lobe of other arteries that are 
not now so well filled with blue blood. Disraeli seems to have 
been at least a little " previous " when he put Oxford Street as 
a natural boundary like the Rhine, cutting off the true West End 
from " all those flat, dull, spiritless streets, resembling one another 
like a large family of plain children with Portland Place and 
Portman Square for their respectable parents." Not to speak 
of a royal princess, there are still half a dozen dukes and earls 
in Portman Square, where lived the head of the noble family 
with which Mr. Tittlebat Titmouse claimed kindred. 

The City of Westminster is dotted, not so thickly as it might 
be, with tablets proclaiming celebrated occupants of this or that 
house, as, for instance, one near the corner of King Street, off 
St. James's Square, which lodged Louis Napoleon in his conspiring 
days. Many houses, of course, can be more or less authorita- 
tively identified with real or fictitious personages : a friend of 
mine who lived in Curzon Street felt certain that Becky Sharp 
had been among his predecessors. Lord Beaconsfield certainly 
died at No. 19, as he lived in his palmy days at 29, Park Lane. 
Gladstone is remembered in several homes, beginning with the 
chambers of the Albany, that have lodged so many celebrities in 
their youth. In one house of Berkeley Square lived Horace 
Walpole, in another Clive killed himself ; and others could be 
pointed out as once the abodes of Lord Brougham and of Lord 
Clyde, if we cared for a complete directory of ghostly addresses 
thus distinguished. In Berkeley Square is a house long noted 
for the name of being haunted in our own time ; but Lady Dorothy 
Nevill, in a position to probe this bad reputation, reduces its 


weird legend to a story of an eccentric tenant, disappointed in 
love, who let it go to rack and ruin for twenty years, during 
which he never went out, moving about the rooms only at night, 
when the windows showed mysterious lights in what was taken 
for an unoccupied building. 

Nobody knows for certain how Piccadilly came by its outlandish 
name, at which doubtful guesses have been made. The names 
of its side streets often show how they were once the demesnes 
of noble families, whose mansions may still stand islanded among 
rows of unsecluded homes — Grosvenor House, Lansdowne 
House, Bath House, Chesterfield House, and so on, beside the 
pretentious palaces recently raised by South African millionaires 
and the like. The site of these houses must be a most valuable 
property in unearned increment ; and if their owners cannot come 
to terms with an American heiress, they might always get new 
gilding for a coronet by selling such roomy town seats to be 
changed into blocks of flats. It is whispered, indeed, that the 
first crop of Mayfair flats has yielded a poorer harvest than was 
expected ; so this new form of domesticity may be expected to 
flourish rather in the suburbs and in the purlieus of fashion, 
where it takes deeper root. People who can afford to pay 
hundreds or thousands of pounds a year for an apartment, may 
still prefer the old self-contained house, though, in the West-end, 
it is apt to be a model of inconvenience, especially in the bedroom 
and kitchen arrangements that will not meet the eye of guests, 
nor of passers-by admiring its fresh coat of paint and beflowered 
window-sills. Farther out, where fashion does not silver such 
discomforts, there seems a sad slump in last generation's homes 
of respectability, with their deep-sunk areas and long stairs, 
standing to let by hundreds in certain monotonous streets that 
hold desperately on to the skirts of gentility. Dear in proportion, 
and most difficult to get in the West-end, are small houses 
adapted to the failing supply of domestic service ; and this ex- 
plains the success of the flats that seek to add a new dimension 
to housing space. 

I myself have long been on the lookout for a flat that would 
suit me, but find it rather hard to meet my modest requirements. 



I want one with nothing above it, and nothing below it, and no 
houses within a quarter of a mile of it, except a railway station, 
a police-office, a pillar-box, and a single shop to sell anything I 
may happen to need without delay. If ever I come across a flat 
that distantly approaches to such an ideal, the landlord and 
I have not agreed as to terms. One can't help suspecting that 
this kind of accommodation is too dear. When flats first began 
to rear their bulk in London, I occupied the dining-room floor of 
a small Kensington house, where " Chinese " Gordon, not yet the 
hero of Khartoum, was for a time my fellow-lodger in the drawings 
rooms, and we were neighboured by lordly abodes like that of Sir 
John Millais, and a duke's petite maison, the rent of which was 
said to be £900 a year. Not far off, a too ambitious speculator 
built such a palace that no one ever lived in it, not even himself, 
as his house of financial cards fell to the ground before it was 
finished. It had to be demolished to make way for Kensington 
Court, having itself arisen on a nest of slums, where, to avoid 
unpleasant eviction, the shrewd owner was understood to have 
invited the occupants to supply themselves with firewood by 
pulling down their unsavoury homes about their own ears. The 
modest house in which I lived belonged to my landlord ; but he 
informed me that its rent would not then be over £50 or £60 
a year. When we came to be overshadowed by the first block 
of flats, I had the curiosity to price them, and found that less 
accommodation on the highest story would cost four times as 
much. This seemed disproportionate, considering that the heavy 
charge of ground rent is divided in the case of many-storie \ 
buildings. Flats were then an experiment ; but still, in most 
parts of London, one gets more room for one's money, taking rates 
and taxes into account, in the shape of a house than of a story. 
It must be the constant worries and petty outgoings of the 
householder which help to make flats so popular that even 
" buildings," intended for the working-class, tend in many cases 
to be occupied by less horny-handed tenants. But as the rearing 
of " mansions " goes on apace, we may expect to find their rents 
falling, when the supply has gone beyond the demand. Mrs. 
Lynn Linton paid £140 a year for two rooms so high up that once 


or twice a year, as she could tell, her windows showed a clear view 
across leagues of London homes. This was in Queen Anne's 
Mansions, one of the first and the most soaring of such structures, 
a dozen or more stories high, which was to have been still more 
elevated, had the authorities not interfered, as they have been 
fain to do in Boston and Chicago, while New York strives to look 
down on the world from its towers of Babel. 

As yet flat life is more at home on the other side of St. James's 
Park than in Mayf air, the spread of which westwards was brought 
up sharp by the edge of Hyde Park. Then fashion overflowed 
southwards into the newer squares of Belgravia, which w T as 
frankly Pimlico when George IV. had Buckingham Palace rebuilt 
on the skirts of this quarter, not all, indeed, to be reckoned in 
the true West-end, except as filling the pockets of very lordly 
landlords. But dignity revives again on the river bank, where 
the muddily-picturesque haunts of Turner give place to very 
elegant mansions. One most eligible site seems " ripe for develop- 
ment " as homes of wealth and gentility, when the Embankment 
shall be extended from Chelsea to Westminster Palace along what 
long presented an interval of chaos to draw sighs from any enter- 
prising house agent. One can remember when an ugly prison 
stood opposite Lambeth, where now the Tate Gallery offers a 
promise of better things. " Boz " knew this stretch of the bank 
as a bathing-place of shameless youth ; and it still shows some 
features not wholly out of keeping with the description in 
J. T. Smith's Book for a Rainy Day, a pen-picture taken from the 
site of the Tate Gallery. 

There are now very few trees remaining, and those so scanty of 
foliage, by being nearly stripped of their bark, that the public are 
no longer induced to tread their once sweetly variegated banks. Here 
on many a summer's evening Gainsborough, accompanied by his friend 
Collins, amused himself by sketching docks and nettles, which afforded 
the Wynants and Cuyp-like effects to the foregrounds of his rich and 
glowing landscapes. Millbank, which originally extended with its 
pollarded willows from Belgrave House to the White Lead Mills at 
the corner of the lane leading to " Jenny's- whim," afforded similar 
subjects to those selected by four of the old rural painters ; for instance, 
the boat-builders' sheds on the bank, with their men at work on the 




shore, might have been chosen by Everdingen ; the wooden steps 
from the bank, the floating timber, and old men in their boats, with the 
Vauxhall and Battersea windmills, by Van Goyen ; the various colours 
of the tiles of the cart-sheds, entwined by the autumnal tinged vines 
backed with the most prolific orchards, with the women gathering 
the garden produce for the ensuing day's market, would have 
pleased Ruysdael ; and the basket-maker's overhanging smoking 
hut, with a woman in her white cap and sunburnt petticoat, dipping 
her pail for water, might have been represented by the pencil of 

" What I left open fields, producing hay and corn, I now find 
covered with streets, and squares, and palaces, and churches. 
I am creditably informed that in the space of seven years, eleven 
thousand new houses have been built in one quarter of West- 
minster, exclusive of what is daily added to other parts of this 
unwieldy metropolis ." So grumbled Humphrey Clinker's master, 
who in Georgian days found that " Pimlico and Knightsbridge 
are now almost joined to Chelsea and Kensington." Yet where 
the Brompton Road and Cromwell Road stretch westwards, a 
contemporary tells me how he has shot over fields since covered 
by most eligible residences. When Lady Blessington moved to 
Gore House, seventy years ago, she spoke of herself as living 
" in the country," a mile from London, where now stands the 
Albert Hall ; and her contemporary, Horace Smith, could more 
modestly take to " rusticating " at Elysium Row, Fulham. 
Soon the swelling tide poured on to submerge Kensington and 
Chelsea, which as insulated villages had gained social distinction 
of their own when the Court came to Kensington Palace. No 
quarter holds its head higher than the royal borough of Kensington, 
whose name is stretched on every side. " South Ken," as 'bus 
conductors curtail it, overlays the formerly more Bohemian 
Brompton ; West Kensington would fain look down on its native 
Hammersmith ; and far to the north the favoured cognomen 
tries to root itself afresh. Even the western annexe of 
Southend was once for advertising itself as Kensington-on-Sea ; 
but that title stuck in the mud, as Southend itself cannot 
disguise its East-end connection by proposing the alias of 


At the north edge of Kensington Gardens used to be worked 
Kensington Gravel-pits, a consignment from which to Russia was 
so royally paid for by the Czar, that the proprietor's gratitude 
took the form of naming Moscow Road and St. Petersburg Place, 
where the Greek Church should find itself at home. On this side, 
we strike another extension of the West-end, that holds on to it 
by the address " Hyde Park," growing a little shy of the more 
explicit " Bayswater," said to have been " Bayard's water," 
a watering-place when Bayard made almost a generic name for 
horse, like Dobbin in a less chivalrous age. This district was 
once christened " Asia Minor " from its population of Anglo- 
Indian officials ; there is one corner of it that has been slyly 
styled " Jerusalem the Golden " ; and not the least lordly part is 
nicknamed Tyburnia from that most vulgar Tyburn tree, set 
up at the crossways near the site of the Marble Arch. Park 
Lane — horribile dictu ! — was Tyburn Lane, as leading to an arena 
chosen for executions so far back as Henry IV. 's reign. Much 
later, hangings were occasionally done in the most lively quarters, 
in the Haymarket, for instance, in the Strand, and in Pall Mall, 
for the sake of example, or as near the scene of the crime ; but 
Tyburn long had such bad eminence in this respect, that a more 
modest place of execution, across the Thames, came to be known 
as Tyburn in Kent. 

The Tyburn, like the Westbourne, has disappeared under- 
ground, their hidden streams degraded into drains ; but the 
channel of the former is shown by the windings of Marylebone 
Lane, as by the very affix of St. Ma,ry-\e-bourne, and by such names 
as Brook Street and Conduit Street; a Brook field here was 
the scene of May Fair, that lasted down to George III.'s reign. 
Whitehorse Street, again, seems to mark its crooked bank, above 
the dip in Piccadilly that was this brook's course towards the 
original mouth, where its silt blocked the Thames with Thorney 
Island, the site of Westminster Abbey. The Westbourne, passing 
under its " Knights' bridge," fell into the Thames higher up, by 
Chelsea ; and, now that it is cut off from the Serpentine, its channel 
appears no more plainly than in an aqueduct crossing the Under- 
ground railway at Sloane Square* 


These natural drains of London rise, like the Fleet, in the 
sand-edged clay bank behind Hampstead, which nowadays has 
grown into such a sumptuous suburb, that it might almost be 
counted as morally belonging to the West-end, though cut off, 
like Austria from Germany, by the semi-Bohemian " groves of 
the Evangelist/' bordered with what seems at least the stuccoed 
respectability of Regent's Park. People with more sense than 
money, know where to look for roomy houses at a fallen rent 
among the squares and Georgian streets of Bloomsbury, where 
such homes as those of Thackeray and Dickens, of Burne-Jones 
and Rossetti, of Lord Thurlow and Lord Mansfield, have 
come down to be much opened to " paying guests." I knew a 
man of means and position who unblushingly housed himself 
in Golden Square — where Ralph Nickleby lived and Matthew 
Bramble's party lodged — because he found this nook a smoky 
asylum from asthma. But Lord Bolingbroke's town house 
nowadays would be taken to the west of Bond Street. 

Here, then, we have the quarters inhabited by Londoners 
understood neither to toil nor to spin, and the satellites of such, 
an area merging oflf into monotonous reaches of professional pro- 
priety, and islands of less conventional attraction. West-enders 
proper may be defined as those who live in London only part of 
the year, and having the best houses in town, make the least 
use of them. Certain corners and skirts of this province are 
notably affected by the dependents of wealth and rank. Kensing- 
ton is the paradise of successful artists and authors. Dover 
Street, at the other boundary of fashion, is much given up to 
ladies' clubs and dressmakers, standing together like cause and 
effect. Savile Row is a centre of tailordom. Jermyn Street 
and its openings are in the way of letting lodgings. In Bond 
Street we look for jewellers and picture galleries, as in Baker 
Street for photographers. There was a time, not so long ago, 
when Finsbury in the City was a fastness of learned physicians. 
Now Harley Street, rather, has become a proverb for medical 
science ; but doctors, of course, spread themselves widely in the 
West-end. It is honeycombed throughout by mews, whole 
streets and lanes of stabling, that, though unsavoury, are said 



to make not unwholesome dwellings for the families thickly 
packed in their upper rooms. Will petrol have the same anti- 
septic effect as has been attributed to the ammoniacal odours 
of stables, which else might have poisoned the best part of 
London ? But perhaps free flushing with water is the disin- 
fecting agency ; and somehow or other, whatever be the lot of 
human beings, good sanitation will be provided for the steeds of 

The sheeny angels of this Elysium are envied by many who 
see them driving or lounging in the Park, or passing on from one 
crush to another through the summer nights that, to more pensive 
minds, seem wasted on such revelry. Outsiders do not always 
guess how little those apparent favourites of fortune are to be 
envied in many cases : how black care can climb up behind the 
smartest motor-car ; how often an invisible sword hangs by a 
thread over the richest banquet ; what fears and spites and 
jealousies may poison the sparkling cup of pleasure, or turn to 
ashes the most savoury fare. Moralists, indeed, have never 
been slow to proclaim that the passions and griefs of human nature 
gnaw but more sharply under furs and lace, a hard saying for 
ragged shiverers in the showers and blasts of life. Yet a very 
small experience might illustrate the troubles of those whose 
desires are multiplied by ever new needs ; and a very little 
reflection should be enough to show the slaves of fashion bearing 
their own whips and scorns. How weary some of them must 
grow of an endless round of idle amusement, long before the gay 
throng gets leave to breathe fresh air at Goodwood and Cowes, 
and to wash out its overloaded digestive organs at Homburg or 
Marienbad ! The Season, it appears, tends to be a less well 
marked period, broken up by week-end outings, frittered out by 
the long sittings of democratic legislators, and revived in moon- 
light glimpses of aristocrats stolen back to town, when perhaps 
they have been fain, like the proud Ked Indians, to give up their 
hunting-grounds to strangers from still farther West. But still 
the blooming time of Society coincides with Nature's high 
midsummer pomps ; and the harvest of marriages should be 
growing ripe for garnering in St. George's, Hanover Square, or 

st. george's, hanover square 



other temples of fashion, before the West-end has earned its 

Good-night to the Season — the dances, 

The fillings of hot little rooms, 

The glancings of rapturous glances, 

The fancyings of fancy costumes ; 

The pleasures which fashion makes duties, 

The praisings of fiddles and flutes, 

The luxury of looking at Beauties, 

The tedium of talking to mutes ; 

The female diplomatists, planners 

Of matches for Laura and Jane ; 

The ice of her Ladyship's manners, 

The ice of his Lordship's champagne. 

Not every rhymer, like Praed, is able to take an inner view 
of this circle, on which so many authors, in prose and verse, 
have had much to say, among them the present poet-laureate, 
who began his career with The Season, a Satire. But for the 
moment the satiric pen has grown a little blunt in dealing with 
that old theme. In our time, Diogenes seems more indifferent, 
even more indulgent to the shows of society, perhaps as providing 
a pageant for the outside world ; unless when stirred to a snarl 
at dukes and their demesnes, the esurient democrat appears 
often to turn less jealous eyes on the butterflies of fashion 
than on the busy bees who store up envied provision of honey in 
the social hive. Even the most Radical papers, it will be noticed, 
provide their readers with glimpses into gilded life, and reports 
of the costliest chiffon blocks. I have met an industrious journal- 
ist living in a humble outskirt of " town," who confessed to me 

how, under the name of Lady X , she wrote regular articles 

of fashionable intelligence at a remuneration of ten shillings per 
week. Since editors know their public, such articles must be 
trustfully read by middle-class and other patrons of the half- 
penny press, who thus, on paper, come into some tickling contact 
with the West-end. 

Then there are always the novelists and dramatists, who set 
up for the crowd their peep-shows into those charmed regions. 
One does not wonder that story-tellers take by choice scenes on 


which there is more opportunity for decoration and stage effect. 
The heart of a duchess may not differ from that of a washer- 
woman ; but the high-placed personage has a wider range of sensa- 
tion and experience, from which the artist can more easily weave 
a richer web of incident. The roman bourgeois needs stronger 
imagination to develop its possibilities of interest than does the 
cloak and sword drama ; and hardest of all is it to distil pure 
tragedy and comedy from the elements of everyday common life. 
So less complaint is to be made of fabulists who pick out bedecked 
figures for their puppets, than of the public to please whose taste, 
it will be remembered, the characters in Mr. Pendennis's first 
novel were raised a step or two in the peerage at the suggestion 
of the publisher. To the humble reader, the West-end is a 
fairyland of romantic possibilities ; the shop-girl's favourite hero 
or villain is sure to be that bold, bad baronet, or that virtuous lord 
who at last gives his hand as well as his heart to a lowly Pamela, 
in real life taken oftener from the stage than from the kitchen. 
When we come to examine the glasses of this peep-show, we 
find them in our time as much clearer as are the plate-glass windows 
of Regent Street, compared with the leaded and small-paned 
casemates that served our ancestors. Authors are now bound to 
give a more faithful representation of the life of that class whose 
doings will be daily thrown in flickering cinematographs upon 
the sheets of our newspapers. But only of late do lords and 
ladies come to stand in such revealing light. The hungry novelists 
of the eighteenth century were dazzled when they cast their 
eyes upwards ; even smug Richardson and surly Johnson are 
ready to make allowances for a man of rank. So the imaginative 
pictures of fashionable life in that age must be taken as not very 
faithful, though, indeed, works of fact bear out works of fiction 
in showing silk-coated and lace-ruffled sparks of quality behaving 
in publio places with an insolence that would now disgrace the 
plainest cit. Miss Burney was the painter of her time who had 
the best glimpses into high life, and the figure cut by royal princes 
and courtiers in her Diary makes less surprising the ill manners of 
her Harrels and Brangtons, not to speak of bears like her 
Captain Mirvan and Mr. Briggs. 


The immortal Jane Austen, of course, is more at home in the 
country, or at Bath, than in " town," and her personages seldom 
rise above the upper middle class. But when she does give us 
a peep at higher ranks, one suspects her glasses of being a little 
clouded, unless manners have much changed for the better. 
Would any gentleman, nowadays, for very shame's sake, behave 
so rudely to a lady as did General Tilney to the romance-struck 
guest of Northanger Abbey ? Surely no fine lady of our smartest 
set would be quite so insolently uppish as Lady Catherine de 
Bourgh. As for Mr. Darcy, his priggish pride would get him 
kicked out of the heroship of any novel, now that heroines no 
longer admire being treated de haut en has. Miss Edgeworth 
and Miss Ferrier, for their part, deal very frankly with the big- 
wigs whom they bring on their scenes ; but the former sometimes 
seems to overshoot the mark of comedy, as when she makes her 
Duke of Greenwich take mortal offence at a ministerial colleague 
for sending him a letter sealed with a wafer. 

When the age of wigs had passed into that of powder, and 
that too had gone to dust, there came the days of the dandies, 
in which ladies and gentlemen of undoubted fashion took to 
writing stories of their own monde. But these can hardly be 
trusted, so much do they show conceit and utter want of sympathy 
or self-knowledge. What a haughty contempt has " Pelham " 
for all persons not of bon ton ; how indulgent he is to the follies 
and caprices of his equals ; what unredeemed blackguards he 
finds in low life ; and how ridiculous are the manners of the middle 
classes, as seen through the quizzing glass which Mr. Tittlebat 
Titmouse took for the sign of a complete gentleman ! One can 
understand the grudge of professional authors like Thackeray 
and Tennyson against Bulwer Lytton, who in youth would 
endorse Byron's lordly sneer — 

One hates an author that's all author, fellows 
In foolscap uniforms, turned up with ink. 

What seems less easy to understand is how tne author of 
Pelham lived and learned to shine in historic romances, showing 
thought and research, then grew into the riper wisdom that bore 


fruit in The Caxtons and My Novel. Not incomprehensible was 
the puzzle of a Dutch reader who told me he could not make up 
his mind which of two English authors he more admired, Bulwer 
or Lytton. That misunderstanding makes the antipodes of 
another I once found in a travelled Italian, who, among the 
works of Byron, had been best pleased by certain burlesques he 
saw on our stage a generation ago. 

For the personages of Lord Lytton's early novels, he found 
models in the circle of Lady Blessington, who kept up on credit 
a sort of London Hotel de Rambouillet, more frequented, indeed, 
by dandies than by ladies of fashion. First in Mayfair, and then 
at Kensington Gore, her house, not without scandal, was prac- 
tically the home of Count D'Orsay, that Cupidon dechalne, who 
became a parasite of the Blessington family during their wander- 
ings on the Continent, and ended his long London residence as 
besieged by bailiffs in Gore House. It seems strange how this 
self-exiled foreigner was able to succeed Brummell as our king 
of fashion, his reign marked by the same vanity and extravagance, 
if not by the same insolence. "Alfred," along with a fund of 
unfailing gaiety not to be extinguished by an always growing pile 
of debt, had accomplishments in the way of art that made him 
more than a lay-figure for waistcoats ; his busts and sketches 
were as much in vogue as Lady Blessington's Books of Beauty 
and other ephemeral works, out of which for a time she made two 
or three thousand a year. But now her novels are as the snows 
of yesteryear, like many others renowned in their day, whose fate 
may be taken to heart by some of our own popular writers. Her 
authorship, indeed, flourished chiefly through her salon in the 
West-end, where the critical Cerberus has often been soothed, by 
chicken and champagne, to let pass without a growl still duller 
stories than Confessions of an Elderly Gentleman. 

This noble author had a dash of Hibernian cleverness, shown 
by the manner in which she was so long able to cajole her host 
of creditors, as well as the literary world. One smart mot I hope 
not to be wrong in attributing to her ; but I cannot for the moment 
recall my authority. When the crash came, and she had to 
follow D'Orsay as a fugitive to France, she naturally expected 


some countenance from Louis Napoleon, newly installed as 
President of the Republic, to whom she had been hospitable in 
his days of adversity. He is said to have dryly asked how long 
she meant to stay in Paris. Et vous, monseigneur ? retorted 
the ready Irishwoman. She soon died in exile ; and Gore House 
was, at the time of the Great Exhibition, converted into a most 
ambitious restaurant, styled the " Symposium," by Alexis Soyer, 
that artist in cookery who is said to have been the original of 
Thackeray's Mirobolant, but he deserves to be better remembered 
for professional services to his adopted country in the Irish 
famine and in the Crimean War, when, in a gorgeous uniform 
of his own composition, he sought to refine our defective 

" Pelham " had the name of introducing sober black for men's 
evening wear. Another habitue of Gore House was Disraeli, 
who outdid even that dandy generation in his display of velvet, 
ruffles, waistcoats, rings, and chains, bedizening himself after an 
outlandish manner that makes his social success more of a mystery 
than his political career. His novels may be still read rather 
for their smart impudence, their scandalous indiscretions, and 
their curious mixed flavour of romance and cynicism, than for 
any deep knowledge of human nature ; though, indeed, some good 
judges have been dazzled by works that seem often no better 
than flashy freaks of literature. For my part, at least, I like him 
better in his clever burlesques and his flights of Oriental fancy 
than in his pictures of a life into which he made his way as 
an " outsider." Unless we are to take him as having his tongue 
in his cheek when he presents great folk, this author is not 
ashamed to exhibit himself, beneath all his finery, in a most 
shabby character, " letters four do form its name." He meanly 
admired mean things, in love with the " splendid accidents of 
existence," with the upholstery and flunkeydom of aristocracy, 
as well as with its pride and power. There is, to be sure, a 
certain leaven of vague sentiment that keeps the affectation from 
going sour ; and the cake is richly spiced with epigrams and per- 
sonalities ; but Disraeli's bounded outlook into a world given up 
to political intrigue and frivolous raillery, with interludes of young 


England masquerading, presents a mere artificial comedy of 
manners, which must have owed much of its success to the 
trick of bringing actual notabilities on the scene — Count D'Orsay, 
for instance, in Henrietta Temple, both as the pseudo-fictitious 
Count Mirabel, and under his own name in the dedication by 
" his affectionate friend." 

Many other writers of Jeames de la Pluche's generation under- 
took to depict the West-end, who had less opportunity to observe 
its salons and banqueting-rooms. What are we to think of 
Samuel Warren, who thought so much of his own work ? I3 
Ten Thousand a Year a faithful picture of life ? Are the Aubreys 
of this world so compact of honour, dignity, grace, and other 
qualities to be at last rewarded by poetical justice ? Are 
attorneys, linen-drapers, Dissenting ministers and the like all so 
vulgar, scheming, and hypocritical ? Was there ever such a hateful 
little wretch as Tittlebat Titmouse, who, after turning an envious 
eyeglass on the fashionable world from afar off, finds himself 
fooled for a time by fortune to the top of his bent ? What reader 
cares now to force his way through this once admired jungle of 
satire and sentiment ? And our neglect of poor Warren's special 
pleading for gentility finds explanation in more than one novel 
of our time, where the same theme, a man of lowly birth suddenly 
embarrassed by wealth, has been treated with humour, sympathy, 
and truer insight. How a cheap draper's assistant may have 
the makings of a man in him is shown in Mr. H. G. Wells' Wheels 
of Chance, when for once the author deals with mere average 
human nature. How a raw clerk, conscious of dropping his 
h y s, may develop a gentle soul under the sun of fortune, is brought 
out in the late D. Christie Murray's Way of the World, the moral 
of which, indeed, is rather marred by the ludicrous weakness of 
the hero, as also by the calumnious presentment of a comic 
villain, shown up from real life for his offence of having been once 
the author's friend and creditor. This novel, else hardly to our 
purpose, has a no doubt satirically exaggerated picture of the 
beginnings of " Society journalism," while its most lifelike 
figures are copied rather from Fleet Street than from the West- 
end. Another story of our time, Mrs. Jenner's An Imperfect 


Gentleman, gives a tar fairer and more convincing account of 
what would happen through a head-turning inheritance, a question 
also well treated in Mrs. Oliphant's The Wizard's Son and Harry 

In Ten Thousand a Year, many real persons are introduced 
under a very thin disguise of caricature : we can all guess 
who sat for Mr. " Quicksilver," afterwards Lord Chancellor 
" Blossom and Box " ; Mr. " Venom Tuft " is said to be Abraham 
Hayward, without any hint of the qualities that must have gone 
to making him a trencher-fellow of the great ; and the Marquis 
" Gants-Jaunes de Millefleurs " offers another presentment of 
Count D'Orsay, who figured so imposingly before that generation. 
In Blackwood's Tory Magazine, of course, nothing too bad could 
be said of Whig politicians and of the great Bill " for giving 
everybody everything " ; and it is noticeable how Mr. Titmouse's 
address to the electors of Yatton, intended for screaming farce, 
would now, with the omission of one paragraph, pass almost for 
electioneering commonplace. But this extravagant farrago 
of party and class feeling became the most popular novel of its 
day, undoubtedly relished by good, if prejudiced, judges, while 
on the author's own authority we have it that some of these voted 
Dickens quite eclipsed by a book which our generation cannot 
read without yawning. There seems reason to suppose that 
Warren made another attempt on public taste in the same style, 
half expecting it to fall flat, as it did. Mr. E. B. V. Christian, 
in his Leaves from the Lower Branch, points out that a novel 
entitled Walter Hurst, by " H. G. Pelham," published in 1854, 
to be soon forgotten, reads as if from the pen that wrote Ten 
Thousand a Year : if not by some writer who was trying to 
imitate him, I should guess at it as an early work of Warren's, 
kept in MS. for half his lifetime, as perhaps was Disraeli's 
Endymion, that came to be less timidly put forward by an 
author whose name had risen to be an advertisement for the 
dullest pages. 

From such one-sided views, there was bound to be a reaction, 
which bounced to the other extreme. Dickens had the entree 
to Lady Blessington's salon, but the society of kid-gloved 



scribblers seems to have been thrown away on him. We all 
know how his West-end folk appear either as fools or knaves, 
not to say mere puppets dressed up to be banged about by 
vigorous sentiment, whereas genuine honesty and true wisdom 
must be sought for among the poor and lowly, whose hearts are 
in the right place if not their h's and w y s. Through this peep- 
show fashionable life is seen not steadily nor whole ; as, indeed, 
most of Dickens' characters are exaggerated and highly coloured 
after theatrical models, to play their parts in what may be called 
the transpontine drama of fiction. It was perhaps a sign of 
wholesome stirrings in that generation that Dickens set copy 
lines for a new school of fiction. Douglas Jerrold and a host 
of other popular writers, who could not at least be accused of 
snobbery, were all in the same tale of reviling the high and 
mighty, and proclaiming virtues that blushed unseen by the 
Coningsbys and Pelhams. This is the natural bias of the imagina- 
tive maker, who all along has been more in the way of rubbing 
shoulders with poverty, while the painter might get closer into 
touch with wealthy patrons. But democratic sympathy can 
easily be pushed too far, till a satirical humorist has to 
remind us — 

Hearts just as pure and fair 

May beat in Belgrave Square, 

As in the lowly air 
Of Seven Dials. 

Was not Thackeray the first great novelist, after Fielding, 
who tried to hold the balance true ? At the risk of being belittled 
as a " superior person," I avow my faith that Dickens, however 
excellent in philanthropic pleading, qua painter of human nature 
was to Thackeray as limelight unto sunlight, or pineapple rum- 
and- water unto wine. The moralist of Vanity Fair mocked at 
Bulwer's affectations and at the genteel life admired by Samuel 
Warren ; but his satire of those in high places was not mere 
caricature. This satirist is a true humorist, with a tear seldom 
far from the laugh that sometimes seems overdone as a Punch's 
squeak ; yet the still sad music of humanity may be caught even 
among the shrill note of his panpipes. Most of his characters 


are human beings, not mere lay-figures of virtue and vice. Becky 
Sharp has her moments of contrition ; the duteous Laura Bell 
her twinges of jealousy ; the wicked Lord Steyne is not without 
a touch of common kindness; Major Pendennis can for a moment 
forget his worldly selfishness ; Colonel Newcome is none the less 
lovable for his dash of soldierly pride. The author's view 
of life is, indeed, limited, mainly turned upon the lower-upper 
and upper-middle classes, so that his novels would almost make 
a guide to the West-end and its purlieus, with excursions into 
artistic Bohemia. Humbler folk are here as much kept in the 
background as the inhabitants of mews hidden away behind the 
squares and lordly mansions to which he introduces us by the 
front door ; but Thackeray has always a kind thought of honest 
poverty, unless when put into a flunkey's livery. In his early 
writings most plainly appears that tossing and goring mood to 
which plush was like a red rag. One can't help suspecting a shade 
of truth in Disraeli's bitter picture of " Mr. St. Barbe," with his 
jealous grudge against the aristocracy. The denunciation of 
snobs reads as a half-confession ; and the masquerading part of 
Jeames de la Pluche seems studied with " the keen eye of an 
accomplice," who did not despise cards of invitation from " Lady 
Prances Flummery." But his early social uneasiness clarified 
into a rich vintage of moral wit and wisdom, which has been a 
most salutary tonic to the patients among whom he practised. 
He at least founded the school of sympathetic realism brought to 
bear upon a life that had never yet been so truly painted. A 
prose Shakespeare might have been produced, had Nature but 
blended his genius with that of George Eliot, who takes a loftier 
outlook over scenes of rustic life, while her strength goes from 
her when she gets among the Philistines and Delilahs of the 
West-end. If it cannot be denied that the satiric novelist had 
a suspicious itch for scratching snobbery, let us remember 
how he gave a new and deeper meaning to the word. "Nobs 
and snobs," with Disraeli answer to " high and low " ; it was 
Thackeray who taught us to call no man a snob, unless as 
meanly admiring the mean side of greatness. 
Mrs. Gore, in her Sketches of English Character, is quite as 


satirical as Thackeray, without his sympathetic touch ; and the 
Chronique Scandaleuse of their day shows how that Vanity Fair 
moralist had no need to invent puppets for indignant belabouring. 
His " Gaunt House " was Hertford House, whose master, the 
11 Marquis of Steyne," figured also as the " Lord Monmouth " 
of Coningsby ; and everybody can put a real name to the 
" Wenham," " Wagg," and " Rigby " that played toadies and 
satellites to this ill-famed nobleman. The Marquis of Hertford 
belonged to a family which for two or three generations loomed 
out before snobs in a gilded haze of scandals ; and he married 
a putative daughter of that other noble reprobate, "old Q.," 
who left the pair a large fortune. That dreary " town palace " 
was not his favourite residence ; besides country houses in England, 
he had a petite maison in Regent's Park, and at Versailles a cottage 
of royal whim, built for the Comte d'Artois before the Revolu- 
tion put French princes on their good behaviour. It was, indeed, 
Lord Hertford's boast that he kept a clean shirt ready for him in 
every capital of Europe ; and in most of them he seems to have 
left much dirty linen for the wash. One noble taste he had, for 
the collection of pictures, which, when bought, he is said to have 
kept stacked up with their faces turned to the wall. Lady 
Dorothy Nevill relates that he once commissioned an agent to 
find him a picture which, it turned out, he had himself bought 
three or four years earlier. Such a voluptuary was sure to be 
on bad terms with his heirs ; and on his death he left his collec- 
tions with most of his wealth to an illegitimate half-brother, as 
is believed, who, brought up chiefly in France, came to be Sir 
Richard Wallace, when an English title was granted him for his 
services to humanity at the siege of Paris. He inherited Lord 
Hertford's artistic tastes, spending freely on old armour and 
bric-a-brac, as well as on pictures, but also on munificent charities 
which silver-plated his dubious origin ; and his love of art was 
not so selfish as his benefactor's. Dying without an heir, he 
desired Hertford House and its treasures to be given to the nation, 
a bequest that took effect at the death of his widow ; thus London 
gained one of its museums, haunted by a family history that is 
no masterpiece of nobility. Had Thackeray lived to moralize 


in " Gaunt House " as it now stands open to the common 
people ! 

An apt disciple of Thackeray was Anthony Trollope, who 
washed and stippled in his realism with such industrious pains, 
that he passes for a photographer rather than a painter of life. 
But the man must have had some high lights of imagination 
who portrayed Bishop Proudie without ever having come into 
contact with a Church dignitary ; and most of the many peers 
and politicians who figure on his canvas could have given him 
only short sittings in the hunting-field or in the course of post- 
office business. One gathers that this voluminous writer, at once 
gently and roughly bred, had in youth little access to West-end 
society, and all along was in no danger of becoming a snob, 
inclined rather to bluster against his superiors than to toady 
them. But, within a certain range, he saw human nature clearty 
through his spectacles ; and his method is simply presenting great 
folk as like other people, only a little externally changed by the 
conditions of their place in the world. In this he has been so 
successful, that his gallery of aristocratic full-lengths and sketches 
is certainly the largest, and, to my mind, the most convincing. 
I am not so sure about his shilly-shallying heroes and heroines, 
who have such difficulty in knowing their own minds. His rather 
rapid and mechanical workmanship has told against his fame ; 
but that large output enabled him to present an extraordinary 
variety of types, from the old Whig Duke of Omnium, to his 
conscientious heir Planty Pall, from the straight- riding Lord 
Chiltern to the shifty Lady Eustace ; then his way of re-intro- 
ducing such personages, in the foreground or background of other 
novels, at different periods of life, gives him a chance of elaborating 
their characters through the shades added by time and respon- 
sible station. He seems, to be sure, more at home in country 
scenes ; but his camera is so often brought to bear on the 
West-end, that never again can we believe it peopled by the 
genteel fairies and diabolic satyrs of the Minerva press, whose 
authors turned out their daubs for less than ten pounds a 

Our own generation's novelists are in the way of giving them- 


selves out as quite at home among the smartest society, of which 
they treat us to so many and often so unflattering pictures. 
Sometimes, indeed, one can't help suspecting the pose to be on 
the side of the painter who takes his subjects thus much at their 
ease, or even in scandalous undress. There are some of these 
Paul Prys whose familiarity with the seamy side of high life 
things seems a mere affectation ; others, who may or may not 
know what they are talking about, show up the West-end as 
marrying covetousness to frivolity ; few present its denizens in 
any heroic light, who as often as not figure in current fiction 
stripped not only of wigs and crachets, but of bare respectability. 
But of these authorities I need say nothing, since they are in the 
hands of all readers. 

A more trustworthy guide we have to social penetralia is in 
the memoirs that elbow one another out of the circulating library. 
Everybody who is anybody writes his reminiscences nowadays ; 
and more than one of our lcaloi-kagathoi has been moved to draw 
comparisons between " Society " as he or she knew it in youth 
and in age. Such contrasts we expect to turn out to the dis- 
advantage of the present ; but it is not always so with sunny 
natures setting softly amid honour, love, obedience, troops of 
friends, over and above comfortable homes in the best neighbour- 
hood. From reflective and experienced autobiographers, then, 
with the help of novelists and journalists, we may come to some 
knowledge of what moral changes have passed over the West-end 
in the last generation or two. 

The first observation to be made is that in our time " Society " 
has become more of a republic, no longer taking its laws from 
dandy dictators or dynasties of great families. There was a 
time of sharper distinctions and smaller herds of fashion, when 
the Court Directory might be known by heart to all privileged 
to have their names in it, who also would be known to each other 
at least by sight and by reputation, good or bad. Now the 
social sun shines down upon a jungle of coteries, standing stiffly 
upright or climbing eagerly as parasites, all striving towards 
some share of the light that will expand their blossoms. The 
most gaudy of these growths, which forces itself into public 


notice, is not the most deeply rooted, nor bears the best fruit. 
As in other republics, wealth comes to overshadow claims of 
birth, and notoriety more easily passes for honour. Hard-and- 
fast lines tend to be rubbed out, as in the world of science ; old 
barriers are thrown down, leaving a career more free to ambition 
and to talents, most effectually brought to bear in their literal 
sense of L.S.D. The constant bustle, change, and excitement 
that make the breath of life to a " smart set," are not to be com- 
passed without money, come by honestly, or somehow or other. 
Only big fishes have a good chance to keep in the swim, where 
their rich scales are expected to be felt rather than seen. Mere 
vulgar ostentation is of no account ; the golden rule is to spend 
for one's neighbour as he spends for others. Anything like 
originality, or the eccentricity for which Englishmen once had 
a name abroad, is now rather unfashionable, being, indeed, 
weeded out of our youngsters by the drilling to uniformity that 
is called their education. 

One fence that in former generations divided Society into 
two opposite camps, seems now as dilapidated as the Great Wall 
of China. Whig and Tory mix freely in the search for pleasure, 
when the most crowded salons no longer fly the flag of a political 
party. Every now and then some heated controversy of class 
or interest may strain social relations ; but our generation hardly 
understands the vehemence of party feeling that was nursed by 
our grandmothers as well as by their husbands. The most 
vehement Radicalism, if not too loud or hairy, is admitted into 
the world of fashion, sometimes even welcomed as a tickling 
novelty. The old orthodoxies, also, have ceased to be indis- 
pensable ; Sunday is swallowed up in the amusements of a " week 
end " ; while everyday flirtations with novel religious fads are 
tolerated ; and some fine folk show themselves ready to peep into 
shady superstitions, to make believe in any not too meddlesome 
or exacting creed, that makes a change from the old-fashioned 
faith of their forefathers. Sound Churchmen, however, are still 
able to point to attendance at fashionable services and patronage 
of charities, as fitting into the press of social functions. It seems 
to be a current persuasion that the nineteenth-century cocks of 


positive science crowed too soon, so this generation feels able 
to turn round for another nap. 

I am not qualified to enter on the subject of woman's clothes, 
as to which experts inform me that wider freedom of choice now 
reigns than in more strait-laced days. I will only observe that 
the dictates of female fashion can be inspired by no aesthetic 
principle, since the choicest chiffons of any season come sooner 
or later to the scrap-heap of vulgarity ; and to a future genera- 
tion, photographs of their mothers may look as absurd as now 
do their grandmothers from the age of pork-pie hats and crinoline. 
Men's attire certainly answers to the republican principle. 
D'Orsays and Disraelis would nowadays be stared out of their 
finery ; and even such " swells " as used to make butts for Punch 
have passed much into the background. All Mr. Pepys' expense, 
if he sought to cut a figure in our haunts of fashion, would have 
to be on a studied plainness, distinguished only by cut and 
quality, or by the air of careless familiarity with good clothes, 
which to a sharp eye may mark off the real West-ender from 
endimanche visitors to the Park or Piccadilly. To tell the truth, 
it is often hard to tell the difference, when Tittlebat Titmouse, 
if he have mind and money to give to it, can on reasonable terms 
ape all the requirements of sartorial art. It is for the Tittlebat 
Titmouses of this generation, I take it, that some of our newspapers 
have lately taken to publishing dictates of fashion for men, 
seriously laying down the law on nice questions of ties, buttons, 
and boots, not without veiled advertisement of the shops where 
these indispensable decorations may be had at moderate prices. 
If any man has nothing better to do with his time than to read 
this sort of chatter, it is at least not such venomous stuff as spiced 
the Sunday Flash, in days when Ten Thousand a Year counted 
as boundless wealth. 

To be well-groomed, rather than sumptuously caparisoned, 
makes now the ideal of a man's appearance ; and the barber is as 
much a minister of fashion as the tailor. The shaven faces of 
gilded youth, who appear to take actors or priests as their model, 
are perhaps due to our want of respect for age. With his hat 
on, at least, the baldest senior is able to disguise the work of 


years, but for tell-tale wrinkles which no razor can smooth away. 
In the time of Tom Jones, a man was willing to sit down as old, 
or might hope to be looked up to as venerable, at an age when now 
he still contrives to play the part of a gay spark. In the working- 
class, we hear, grey hairs are looked on with dread as lessening a 
man's value in the labour market ; but the more artful veteran 
of the West-end is able to keep a habit or appearance of activity 
almost to the age at which his grandsire was content to become 
a slippered pantaloon. This attitude of defiance to time, not 
only a superficial show, is no doubt due to the more athletic 
pastimes of a society that with garden-games, golf, and field 
sports strives to adjourn the process of petrification into alabaster. 
Such active habits are related to the present style of studious 
simplicity in male attire. Athletic games were clearly contra- 
indicated, as doctors put it, by the wigs, ruffles, starch, skirts, 
and other trappings of a more formal age — not to speak of hoops 
and headdresses. 

It has been suggested that masculine supremacy is somewhat 
plucked by changes in fashion which eschew the cock-pheasant 
or the robin-redbreast as patterns for imitation. Since con- 
spicuously fine feathers have been given up to the hen-bird, 
there can be no doubt as to woman claiming a position of more 
equality. I put aside a blazing question of politics ; but it seems 
uncontroversial commonplace to insist on the freer tone of inter- 
course between the sexes, and the way in which girls take to the 
sports and games once monopolized by their brothers. The 
Georgian lady's charm of delicate languor is quite out of date, 
as shown by our heroines having almost forgotten how to 
faint away, a weakness quite common, indeed, with the heroes 
of older romance. When Belgravia was built, there and then, 
we are told, did fine ladies first venture to walk about unattended, 
a fact prompting the mot that in this new district " all the women 
were brave and all the men modest." Now women of all ranks 
have learned how to take very good care of themselves ; and if 
some of our Amazons seem too free from the modesty once held 
to adorn their sex, we may set against them certain men not 
ashamed to parade affectations of effeminacy. These weaklings, 



indeed, are more in a minority than are the strapping damsels 
who poach on old preserves of manliness. But while far more 
athletic on the whole than were their grandparents, both sexes 
become unblushingly apt to think and talk a good deal about their 
stomachs, as well as about other matters that used to be tabooed 
in drawing-rooms. The cult of health even shows a tendency to 
take the place of piety, with doctors for its dogmatic priests, 
preaching in vain against a whole tribe of quack dissenters. 
Not the least flourishing of physicians, regular and irregular, 
are those who make a speciality of nerves and of the various 
obscure complaints bred by imagination, itself fed by excitement 
and over-stimulation. 

Another symptom is a new love of publicity in high life. One 
of its recent annalists recalls the Duke of Wellington's indignation 
against a newspaper proprietor, who made copy out of being 
entertained at Apsley House. We have changed all that. The 
reporter no longer hangs in the lobby to pick up from Jeames or 
John Thomas a list of guests invited to ball or banquet. He, 
or she, would have us understand that they enter on so intimate 
a footing as to describe the dress, looks, and doings of the com- 
pany, who appear to welcome such advertisement, as out of doors 
they expect to have their finery snapshotted for the admiration 
of the multitude. It is advertisement rather than information 
which fills the interviewer's paragraphs, now that the scandals, 
of old so malignantly handled in the Sunday Flash, are but rarely 
hinted at by our society journals till they bloom out in the Divorce 
Court. If it were the case that leaders of fashion, professional 
beauties and the like, give some consideration for being kept 
before the public eye, they have a right to nothing but good 
words for their money. But if all whispers be true as to what 
goes on among our smart sets, one wonders at their willingness to 
live in glass houses, where, indeed, the throwing of stones might 
prove a dangerous fashion. 

It is not only in play and pleasure-hunting that both sexes 
show themselves more keen. Of all the changes that have passed 
over the West-end in the last generation or two, the most marked 
seems the abandonment of that unconcerned attitude once held 

st. james's street from the new university 



becoming to blue-blooded man, as well as woman. As the 
difference that struck him most, Mr. Charles Villiers told Sir 
Algernon West that, whereas in his youth " every young man, 
even if he was busy, pretended to be idle, now every young man, 
if he was idle, pretended to be busy." Notoriously the " best 
people " have given up their disdain for money-making. Your 
Pelhams and Mirabels had no idea of earning an honest penny ; 
when the betting-ring or the gaming-table failed them, they let 
long-suffering tradesmen go into the Bankruptcy Court without 
a twinge of conscience, and only when pressed by debts of honour, 
or rude bailiffs, did they condescend to do business with sharp 
lawyers and extravagant usurers. Disraeli's " Armine," seeking 
to borrow £1,500, laughed to scorn the idea of taking more than 
half this advance in coals ; but that hero's descendant might 
have seen his way to serious consideration of such terms. Hard-up 
scions of aristocracy began by dealing in wine, as a commodity 
of which they might be supposed to have some experience ; and 
one can remember how eyebrows were lifted when a duke put his 
sons into tea and cotton. Now there is nothing which may not 
be sold, without loss of social credit, by the sons of peers who 
themselves perhaps are wholesale dealers in coals, dairy produce, 
game, jam-manufacturers, cab-proprietors, or what not. Why 
not, when our impecunious nobles think no shame to ape Nero 
on the stage, while ladies of title unblushingly exhibit them- 
selves in public as nautch-girls ? I quote the animadversion 
of a contemporary moralist who was born in or near the purple : 

Another quality which was formerly supposed to mark the Aristoc- 
racy was its contempt for filthy lucre. For my own part, I confess 
to some scepticism about this aristocratic trait. Some of the most 
penurious people I have ever known have had the longest pedigrees ; 
and their contempt for lucre was only a contempt for the habit of 
acquiring it by trade. Money wrung from highly-rented land, or 
from the over-crowded tenements of great cities, has never stunk in 
the nostrils of " our old nobility." They drew the line at commerce, 
but that line has long since been obliterated. Dukes' sons rollick on 
the Stock Exchange and drudge at office desks. Sprigs of aristocracy 
tout for wine merchants and tobacconists. I have known one of the 
class who partly subsisted by recommending a bootmaker in the 


Burlington Arcade. Another was dressed for nothing by a tailor who 
said there was no advertisement equal to this youth's figure. Others, 
longer headed, pillage their friends at Bridge and Poker ; and the 
more highly educated detachment subsist by writing social paragraphs 
for " Classy Cuttings." 

We are told that a comparatively low tone of commercial 
morality in Japan came from the fact that no nobleman or gentle- 
man Avould soil his caste by concerning himself in trade. But 
now that our daimios and samurai stoop to enter the ranks of 
financiers and shopkeepers, what have they done to leaven the 
money-market with noble principles ? The less apt of them lend 
their historic names as figure-heads and decoys for companies 
promoted by sharper wits, cunning and dignity joining hands to 
fleece the silly flocks that often thus are brought to shivering 
repentance of their trust. Other well-born speculators have 
gone into the City to show themselves as smart as the proverbial 
Jew or Yankee, who in real life might often retort accusations of 
unscrupulous greed upon competitors titularly noble and honour- 
able. A few years ago, a wretched gambler with other people's 
money sailed too near the wind, was taken aback, and when 
convicted of fraud, by a dramatic suicide pleaded guilty to the 
crime of being found out. It was understood by those behind 
the scenes, that this notorious adventurer had partners in his 
schemes, all men of social standing, in one case of lordly rank, 
and that these associates brought him to direful wreck by the 
sharpness with which they took their opportunity to rat from 
the sinking ship. Even the conscience of the Stock Exchange 
was stirred by this treachery ; and it was whisperingly noted how 
two of the selfish speculators were soon called to their last account. 
Their ringleader, or victim, as some held him, lies buried under 
the most sumptuous monument in his parish churchyard, bearing 
this eloquent inscription, He loved the poor, but omitting to men- 
tion that what he gave to the poor he robbed from the rich. His 
faithless associates might have as epitaph, Japanese papers, 
please copy. 

And not only lords but ladies, it seems, are as keen about 
money-making as any roturier or epicier. Women of title, 


delicately wrapped in an alias, carry on milliners' shops in the 
West-end. Haughty dowagers gamble on the Stock Exchange 
as well as at the card-table. Blue-blooded damsels prove eager 
to play the shop-girl, in all but modest civility, at charity bazaars, 
the accounts of which, it is whispered, would sometimes ill bear 
auditing. Leaders of fashion are said to sell various favours 
for value received in " tips " from socially ambitious financiers. 
How should it not be so when some of our great nobles have been 
fain to restore their fortunes by marrying the daughters of 
wealth gained by mean cunning, sometimes not less cruel than 
the bold bloodshed and the adroit treacheries that went to win 
coronets in the good old days. Let America look up to the men 
who by " smart " and unscrupulous schemes have bloated them- 
selves in ruining their competitors and " cornering " the neces- 
saries of life ; but if foul dollar notes are to plaster our tarnished 
titles, we should feel the need of a new nobility. 

The faults of our own generation always stand out most clearly, 
of course bulking but the more largely when wrapped in a coat 
of whitewash. Other times had their own besetting sins and 
their share of ours. We have only to focus our literary telescopes 
on, say, a century back, and we catch the scandalous figures of 
the Prince flattered as " first gentleman in Europe," of " her 
frolic Grace, Fitz Fulke," of courtesans shameless in high places 
and noblemen at home in low company. Then we may draw 
the field of vision half a century nearer to see the Court and its 
purlieus purified and sobered by the influence of a sovereign 
whose life brought respectability into fashion. Most of the best 
equipped observers seem to agree that since Queen Victoria's 
retirement from the world, the tone of " society " has gone down 
in pitch, if its melodies be more intricate and varied. 

The plain truth seems to be that many of those who style 
themselves the " best people " are, to say the least of it, no better 
than they should be. One need not look through the bloodshot 
eyes of a social democrat to find an " aristocracy " cumbering 
the ground when it chooses for its function to set models of 
folly, extravagance, self-indulgence, and greed. Perhaps the 
sign of deadliest rottenness is that it has little self-delusion as 


to its title to esteem. It lets itself be amused by its frankest 
satirists ; it applauds plays in which its manners are held up to 
reprobation ; and one of its most voluptuous thrills is gained 
by listening to eloquent preachers against the " Sins of Society." 
To be naked of honour, and not much ashamed, seems the virtue 
of the fashionable congregations, whose sayings and doings are 
reported for us by half-censorious, half-envious pens, dipped 
in no such gall of indignation as served Juvenal. The common 
tone taken to the faults and follies of our own time is one of 
good-humoured amusement, tempered with critical clear-sighted- 
ness that winks on signs of a decadence not expected to grow 
too offensive in our time. Many will judge that what I am now 
saying is more or less true, but that it would be better taste in me 
to hold my tongue, and mind my own business, which at present, 
to be sure, is the observation of West-end men and morals. 

Our preachers, if not our amusing moralists, make some con- 
verts indeed ; and the West-end always houses many who have 
not bowed the knee to the Baals of the hour ; while these do not 
so much pose before the cameras of our newspapers and novelists. 
To a social historian in another generation, their tell-tale photo- 
graphs should be more useful than the highly-charged pictures 
of less realistic fiction ; yet the future student must remember 
how the photographer, too, chooses his subjects and aspects ; 
and how his taste may be warped by the spirit of the age to take 
more pains in fixing and developing its uglier features. Society 
is not all made up of raddled dowagers, of frisky matrons, and 
calculating maids, of Don Juans with one foot in the grave and 
precocious Talleyrands in their teens, of Barnes Newcomes as 
keen to swindle their neighbours in the East as to neigh after 
their neighbour's wife in the West, of Casanovas who have 
no itch to write their memoirs, and of Perditas who furnish copy 
for newspapers. But enough of such hothouse blooms ! From 
the feverish scenes where they seem to flower too rankly, let us 
get out into the open air, if only into the Park. 

st. james's palace 



The West-end, as distinguished from the west side of London, 
might have been defined as the quarter environing a group of 
parks, nominally the pleasure-grounds of our royal palaces, but 
now treated as practically belonging to the sovereign people. 
For much of what is to be said about them, one may go to Jacob 
Larwood's Story of the London Parks, a quarry of historic slabs 
and fossil curiosities, out of which several authors have already 
built up their own pages. There, as eJsewhere, can be learned 
how, like many other parks about London, these green spaces 
were originally demesnes of the Church that became the greatest 
landlord in Middlesex. 

St. James's, name once a proverb for wealth and fashion, with 
St, Giles as its antipodes, began humbly as a leper-hospital, 
whose inmates were pensioned off by Henry VIII., and he turned 
it into a palace, making an annexe to Whitehall, already acquired 
from Wolsey. The swampy fields between them, stretching 
down to Westminster Abbey, he improved and enclosed as a park 
for this double residence. His successors sometimes lived in one 
house, sometimes in the other. Charles I. spent his last night in 
St. James's, before being marched to execution at Whitehall, 
where Charles II. died more ignobly. Whitehall was accidentally 
burned, and William III. preferred the quiet of Kensington 
Palace ; but the first Georges lived a good deal at St. James's, 
till it came down to be rather the official headquarters of 
George III.'s royalty. 

Under James I., St. James's Park contained an early " Zoo," 
for here he kept a collection of wild animals, including an elephant, 



a troop of camels, and foreign deer, as well as cormorants and 
other rare wild-fowl. At either end were the Spring Gardens 
and the Mulberry Gardens, which grew to be rendezvous for 
the polite public. But the Park was still the King's private 
pleasance ; and even under Parliamentary domination, access 
to it seems to have been a matter of favour. It was then for a 
time docked of its saintly prefix. We remember how Roger do 
Coverley, as a boy, asked a Roundhead the way to St. Anne's 
Lane, and was rebuked as a young popish cur ; but the next 
passer whom he shyly asked after Anne's Lane, broke out upon 
him : " She was a saint before you were born, and will be a saint 
after you are hanged !" The St. James's restaurant, which 
vanished the other day, had suffered greater ignominy among 
un- Puritan frequenters, too familiar with it as " Jimmy's." 

Parliament, however, took care of James Park, and even had 
it restocked with deer, when the Lord Protector hoped to fix 
a new dynasty at Whitehall. Charles II., in his careless good 
nature, threw the Park more open to his loyal subjects, while 
trusting himself to walk about it, sometimes with little or no 
attendance. It was on the road beside Constitution Hill that 
he met his brother escorted by a troop of guards, and gave a smart 
answer to James's remonstrance on his own want of caution : 
" I am sure no man in England will take away my life to make 
you king." Loyal and curious subjects, like Pepys and Evelyn, 
could here see their anointed master strolling with his dogs, 
feeding his ducks, chaffing with Mrs. Nelly Gwynne and her like, 
or playing at paille-maille, a French game appearing to have been 
a cross between elongated croquet and hooped golf. When 
first introduced, early in the century, it had been played in an 
avenue that is now Pall Mall ; but as this became disturbed by 
coaches, Charles laid out a new course farther within the Park, 
where it was kept strewn with crushed cockle-shells, to make a 
rebounding surface for the balls. The vogue of this game called 
forth other Malls in London, at Hammersmith and Chiswick for 
instance ; Piccadilly also began fashionable life as a Mall ; but 
that royal play-place in St. James's was the Mall, which grew to 
be a chief resort of idle London, though now more thronged with 



hasty passengers making for Victoria Station. The Bird-cage Walk 
on the other side was so called as being actually furnished with 
prisoned songsters ; and beyond this the enclosure seems to 
have extended over the site of the barracks and mansion-blocks 
that now hem it in. 

In memory of his Dutch exile, Charles made a canal through 
this Park, on which he set an example of skating, a sport hitherto 
practised in England only after the rough street-boy manner. 
He took great interest in the wild-fowl caught and kept about 
Duck Island at the Whitehall end of the canal, where a decoy 
was set up in what should rather be called a group of islets. 
Duck Island had a governor pour rire ; it was perhaps as a joke 
that George II. 's queen bestowed this dignity upon her protege 
Stephen Duck, the " thresher-poet," whom she afterwards raised 
to a more worthy post in the Church. There are probably 
descendants of Charles's pets among the wild-fowl that still may 
be admired in the lake, while of late years they have had greedy 
rivals for public favour in the gulls which winter brings up to 
hang in a screaming crowd about the bridge, swooping and snap- 
ping at morsels of food thrown to them. The Park in former 
days was peopled with deer so tame that they would eat out of 
anyone's hand. Also we hear of a herd of cows, kept to supply 
the visitors with milk. A survival of this enterprise lasted till 
the other day, when the owner of a milk-stall near Spring Gardens 
made a stand for immemorial vested interest, and had to be 
dealt with on the truly British principle of compromise, the 
cows being banished, but the stall granted another site not far 
off. The zoological attractions of the Park were renewed in 
George III.'s time by elephants and other animals presented to 
his queen, which made a show for country cousins on visits to 
town then as rare as the sight of an elephant in the flesh. 

At the west end of the canal, near Buckingham House, was 
a sheet of water known as Rosamond's Pond, which acquired 
a romantic celebrity, not only as trysting-place of lovers, but, when 
the course of true love did not run smooth, despairing hearts 
were notoriously in the way of drowning themselves there. Under 
George II., the pond came to be drained and filled up ; then some 



cynical wag fixed a notice to a tree that, whereas here " gentle- 
men and ladies cannot be accommodated as formerly . . . the 
basin in the Upper Green Park is a most commodious piece of 
water, in admirable order, and of depth sufficient to answer the 
ends of all sizes and conditions." The name of Rosamond's 
Pond was, in fact, transferred to another lakelet on higher 
ground, near Piccadilly ; and thus certain writers have been led 
into some confusion of topography. The first pond had been 
railed in on account of accidental immersions, for even then 
London might be bewildered by fogs, not to speak of citizens 
who befogged their brains with liquor. 

Besides the occasional fishing out of " one more unfortunate " 
from Rosamond's Pond, loungers in the Park had no want of 
exciting spectacles from time to time, wrestling matches, hopping 
matches, and foot races in which men sometimes ran naked, to 
the shocking of well-dressed promenaders, who in one case 
showed their resentment by taking the shameless athlete at 
disadvantage, obliged to run a gauntlet of switches plucked from 
the trees. Eccentric wagers were now and then carried out in 
St. James's Park. It made a parade ground for the Guards, 
and, as during the Gordon riots, might be turned into a camp. 
For brutal tastes there was the diversion of soldiers stripped 
and tied up to be cruelly flogged in public. But His Majesty's 
Guards seem to have needed sharp discipline, if it be true that 
they would play the footpad in dark corners of the Park. At 
an unfrequented side of it duels might come off, when the law 
had lost its edge that dealt sharply with bloodshed within the 
royal precincts. Larwood points out how the hot-headed 
Colonel Bath of Amelia would not draw sword in the Park ; and 
when Alfieri fought with Lord Ligonier, they passed from Pall 
Mall into the Green Park, looked on as less sacred. Constitution 
Hill seems to have been at one time a usual duelling-ground. 
The Park also made a sanctuary in which bailiffs could not 
exercise their office, as must have been a matter of satisfaction 
to some frequenters, like Amelia's unlucky husband, when he 
durst not show himself in other resorts. An exception was 
in case of high treason ; and treasonable utterances in the 




King's own park appear to have been punished with extra 

All through the eighteenth century St. James's Park, unless on 
special occasions, stood open as a public promenade, while the 
right of driving through it was guarded as a privilege. We 
can remember how, quite recently, the road by Constitution Hill 
was not free to all carriages ; and still the Horse Guards' gateway 
is barred except to a favoured few. George III., who com- 
plained of being overlooked in his gardens at Buckingham 
House, had no mind to keep his people at a distance. Early 
in his reign a German traveller describes the Mall as crowded 
with people of all ranks, both by day and after dark, then lit 
by numerous lamps ; and " when the sun shines, the ground 
sparkles with pins which have dropped from the ladies' dresses." 
Sir Richard Phillips could remember the Mall one moving mass 
of lovely ladies by thousands, with as many smart beaux, who, 
in a former generation, counted it an exploit to make handsome 
women blush by their stares and audible innuendoes, if we can 
trust Congreve's Way of the World. Before the end of the century 
chairs were introduced as a speculation. But then St. James's 
began to go out of fashion, while for a time the adjacent Green Park 
became the choice resort. This, originally a stretch of meadows 
beside the road to Exeter, had been added to his grounds by 
Charles II., and was first known as the Upper Park. Much 
farther back it makes a momentary appearance in history as the 
open ground where Sir Thomas Wyatt's rebels, marching from 
Kingston to attack Ludgate, encountered the Queen's forces, 
and were split up into two bands, one of which trudged on to 
dispersal in the City outskirts. 

The vogue of the Green Park did not last long ; and the im- 
provements carried out here under George III. were cut up by 
the fetes at the peace of 1814, when a crowded fair and free passage 
of all sorts of vehicles ruined the turf, while the riotous mob 
treated itself to a huge bonfire before a showy building set up 
beside Constitution Hill as " Temple of Concord," and a Pagoda 
in St. James's Park was burned down in the display of fireworks. 
For a generation the Green Park seems to have fallen into neglect. 


Frofessor Church, in his recently published memoirs, remembers 
it as no better than a big, ill-kept village green, traversed by 
straggling paths. In the early Victorian years, it became laid out 
much as we see it now, but for the broad walk converging with 
other approaches at the monument now raised before Bucking- 
ham Palace to the most lamented Queen of England. Perhaps 
this new vista of stateliness may bring it back into fashion ; 
but at present, unless when a band plays here, it seems most 
frequented by grimy loafers and glowing urchins, with an occa- 
sional Robin and Rosamond too deep in whispers to mind the 
want of shade. It is shut at night, as I know, who in more 
active days have been fain to climb the railings. 

As London spread westwards, Hyde Park had gradually come 
to be the Paik ; but before passing on to it, let us have done 
with its predecessor. Frederick, Prince of Wales, shut out of 
St. James's Palace by his father, had several makeshift residences, 
one of them Carlton House in Pall Mall, that became what 
Marlborough House is now. It was given up to his mother by 
George III., who turned St. James's into a stage for State functions, 
while his London home was Buckingham House, bought at the 
beginning of the reign as the " Queen's House." We know how 
he loved to take his homely ease in the country, living much at 
Richmond Lodge and at Kew, both of which small and incon- 
venient houses he designed turning into stately palaces. When, 
after twenty years, he made Windsor his summer quarters, it 
was not the half dismantled castle he occupied, but a new building 
known as the " Queen's Lodge." Every fortnight the royal pair 
came into town to hold levees and drawing-rooms, halting for 
two or three days at Kew, where, according to Miss Burney's 
account, the royal idol was partly dressed out, the " tippet and 
long ruffles " being carried in paper to save them from dust, 
then the final touches were added at St. James's. The house now 
exhibited as Kew Palace made a mere dependency of George's 
favoured home, demolished when a grand castle at Kew was 
actually set on foot, which exists in pictures and plans, showing 
it to have been no great loss. The works were interrupted by 
the King's final state of insanity, and he ended his days at 



Windsor, where Chateaubriand, for a shilling to one of his keepers, 
was allowed to stare at the afflicted monarch of three kingdoms. 

George IV., who stopped his father's building, was extrava- 
gant enough in this way on his own account, as the Brighton 
Pavilion stands to testify. He rebuilt Carlton House as a long, 
low structure behind a colonnaded front, where now is the 
Athenaeum Club and on the Park side a row of private mansions 
makes the finest terrace in London. A tall column rises here 
as monument of the generation to which " God bless the Regent 
and the Duke of York !" was a watchword of thick-and-thin 
loyalty ; but of Carlton House, all that remains are the classical 
columns used in the facade of the National Gallery. There the 
Regent held scandalous state, while his unhappy wife had to 
shift for a wandering home at Shooter's Hill, at Connaught Place, 
and finally at Hammersmith. After coming to the throne, he 
had Buckingham Palace rebuilt by his favourite architect Nash ; 
it was not ready before his death, and as William IV. took a fancy 
to St. James's, the new palace came to be completed in its present 
form only under Victoria, who latterly deserted it for more 
secluded abodes. George IV. also began to restore Windsor 
Castle ; and the chosen retreat of his last days was the Cottage 
at Virginia Water. At the same time he had St. James's Park 
laid out much as we see it now, the formal canal being turned into 
a sheet of ornamental water. Under King Edward VII., some 
improvements have been made, the most notable being the 
opening of the Mall to Charing Cross through an archway giving 
a vista towards the Victoria Monument, set in a new stretch of 
garden before the Palace, over which flies the royal standard when 
royalty is at home. 

Marlborough House, originally built for the great Duke, was 
bought for Princess Charlotte, then, sixty years ago, became the 
town house of the Prince of Wales, its obstructed front not offering 
much promise of princeliness, but its best face is turned towards 
the Park. The garden here, and the extensive grounds walled 
in behind Buckingham Palace, are the only parts of the royal 
demesne now kept private, to be seen by those favoured with 
an invitation to some royal fete. Even the quiet courtyards of 


St. James's, for all their show of imposing guards, make a thorough- 
fare for all and sundry ; and the Chapel Royal services are open to 
visitors — by ticket when the Court is in residence — if they care 
to follow the little procession of gorgeously arrayed " children 
of the Chapel," who on Sundays are brought by train from their 
suburban boarding-house. The gateway, with part of the adjoin- 
ing Presence Chamber, is a remnant of the old palace, said to 
have been built by Holbein ; the rest was destroyed by a fire about 
a oentury ago. Some of the apartments are given as residences 
to officials or friends of the King, the blocks called York House 
and Clarence House being appropriated to Princes of the royal 

Like St. James's, the Manor of Hyde was Church property, 
transferred to King Hal when Gospel light dawned upon him 
through Anne Boleyn's eyes. This stretch of woodland and 
meadow, dotted by marshy pools and cut in two by the West 
Bourne, Henry enclosed as one of his many suburban hunting- 
grounds, appointing a keeper or ranger, whose office soon became 
dignified enough to be held by a nobleman or even a Prince. 
The last generation was familiar with the signature of George, 
Ranger, to notices of Park regulations; and then the late Duke 
of Cambridge had no less honorary a successor than the King 
himself, while the management is discharged by the Office of 
Works, whose proclamations take the place of those signed by 
the London County Council in the people's own parks. 

James I. being the man to stand stiffly on his sporting privi- 
leges, had hanged some poaching trespassers here ; but Charles I., 
who enclosed Richmond Park, made up for this unpopular 
encroachment by throwing open Hyde Park to the citizens, if 
they cared to stroll so far for an airing. It became an arena 
for horse and foot races, for archery trials, for May-day merry- 
makings ; and now and then we read of a Cornish hurling-match 
carried out within its precincts, such as still may be seen at 
St. Colomb on Shrove Tuesday. I have come across no mention 
of football, which seems to have been played by choice in the 
streets, a turbulent custom kept up at Kingston, Dorking, 
and other towns till our own time. Sport and play would be 




interrupted by the Civil War, for the Park was turned into a 
camp, and at Hyde Park Corner was built one of a ring of defensive 
works to protect London against the royal forces, who once 
pushed so near as Brentford. Still, in quiet intervals, the Park 
made a pleasure ground, as we know from the Puritan Govern- 
ment shutting it up on Sundays, and from the fact that the Lord 
Protector had an accident here when he undertook to drive 
six in hand, but proved not so skilful at this as in controlling 
the coach of state. Parliament went so far as to banish the deer 
and sell the Park to a private person, who, as Evelyn notes 
indignantly, was " sordid " enough to charge a toll for entrance. 
But the sale could be readily cancelled when the King came by 
his own again ; and the citizens of London, to whom Richmond 
Park had passed, handed over it, too, with a courtly declaration 
of having acted as His Majesty's stewards. 

Under Charles II. this Park bloomed out as a gay resort for 
coaches and horsemen, whereas St. James's, as we have seen, was 
open only as a promenade. What the Mall made there, became 
the Ring or Tour of Hyde Park, upon which it was the fashion to 
drive in a mill-horse round ; this was on the higher ground to 
the north of the water, where some old trees appear to mark its 
position, and a refreshment pavilion has recently revived the 
Lodge to which wigged and hooped carriage-company resorted 
for syllabubs and mince-pies. A happy man was Samuel Pepys 
when he might gaze upon that circus of " gallants and rich 
coaches," and a proud man when first he could be seen there in 
his own coach, soon developing quite lordly contempt for the 
vulgar hackney carriages that now spoilt the whole show to his 
eyes. It was not till William and Mary's reign that hired carriages 
were barred, as they still are, from most roads of the Park. 
When William lived at Kensington, the Palace Gardens, laid 
out by him in the Dutch style, were enclosed as private ; and 
persons admitted on certain days in the absence of the Court 
had to present themselves in full dress. 

To his suburban home William made a road lit by three hundred 
lamps, which, in course of time, became Rotten Row, but whether 
that name be a corruption of Route de Roi, is a disputed point. 


All those lamps could not clear the ways to Kensington from 
robbers ; and the Park at night got a bad name, which it kept 
for long, in spite of the scare of Tyburn tree at its corner and of 
being patrolled by soldiers, who themselves were sometimes 
accused of playing the footpad. It was held safest when from 
time to time turned into a camp, as in the risings of 1715 and 
1745, and again during the Gordon riots. Ever since our kings 
had a standing army, this made an arena for frequent reviews and 
military exercises. Duels, prize fights, and races were common, 
with the occasional shooting or whipping of soldiers, as side- 
shows to the main exhibition of beaux and belles parading them- 
selves in the successive monstrosities of dress that had their 
day. Cricket matches make their appearance early in the reign 
of George II., played here by dukes and earls, though to exquisites 
like Lord Chesterfield, this seemed no sport for a gentleman. 
It would take too long to dwell on all the spectacles mentioned by 
diarists of their day as presented in the Park for public curiosity : 
now a Moorish ambassador and his suite, performing a fantasia 
before the infidels ; now a solemn Persian riding in Oriental 
state ; now a Highland regiment stared at in their unfamiliar 
garb ; again a band of Red Indians trying to bear themselves 
with imperturbable dignity amid a gaping crowd, that kept a 
little shy of their tomahawks 

Queen Caroline, who had an itch for " improvements," ex- 
tended Kensington Gardens, and formed the Serpentine out of 
the marshy overflow of the West Bourne, which had already been 
pressed into service of London's water-supply. She had in view 
an ambitious display of fountains to rival Versailles, while she 
seems to have been disposed to deal with the Parks in the high- 
handed method of a Louis. But on her consulting Walpole 
as to what would be the cost of turning St. James's into a private 
pleasance, the Minister dryly answered, " Only three crowns " ; 
and the prudent Queen took the hint. More than one sovereign 
had the idea of building a palace in such an inviting site as Hyde 
Park, which Londoners, once admitted to it on sufferance, came 
to look on as their own. By the end of the eighteenth century 
so much public money had been laid out here, that there was 



good excuse for holding it as quasi-national property. One 
well-wooded height near the north-western corner was kept 
enclosed as a paddock for deer, a shilling at one time being charged 
for admission. The Park deer remained on show till William IV. 's 
accession ; but the last royal hunting, or rather, shooting, seems 
to have been early in George III.'s reign for the amusement of 
his visitor, the young King of Denmark, who turned out such an 
unsatisfactory brother-in-law. Larwood has to tell how half a 
century later a stray hare was started beside the Serpentine, 
to be hunted down by a fashionable crowd. 

After the peace of 1814, London had here a variety of trium- 
phant exhibitions, a show of conquering Cossacks, and also of 
royal guests, beginning with Louis XVIII. 's procession through 
the Park on the way to his restored throne. The Czar, the King 
of Prussia, and their followers, were so thickly mobbed, that 
Blucher had to take refuge in Kensington Gardens from John 
Bull's overwhelming friendliness. Later in the year both Parks 
were given up to a week's Fair and roistering fete in connection 
with the centenary of the house of Hanover, when in Hyde Park 
the bouquet was a miniature representation of the Battle of 
Trafalgar on the Serpentine, the whole French fleet being finally 
burned with a glare that paled the fireworks following. Un- 
fortunately, drunkenness and disorder made the chief features 
of this national celebration ; and respectable people were scared 
away from a popular orgy not easily extinguished. 

A few years later, a very different scene was enacted in Hyde 
Park, when the funeral of George IV. 's ill-used queen passed 
on its way to Harwich. London resented the hugger-mugger 
way in which the ceremony seemed to be hurried on ; and, to 
avoid sympathetic demonstrations, the Government resolved to 
take the procession round the north side, keeping clear of the 
central streets and the City. But when the escort would have 
turned up at Kensington, Church Street was found blocked by 
a mob, so the way had to be held on along the south side of the 
Park under pouring rain that did not damp the popular feeling. 
Again the Park Lane route was defended in a hot scrimmage 
between the troops and the people. The cortege, driven back, 



turned into the Park and made a dash for the other corner. 
But the crowd got first to the Marble Arch, closed the gate, and 
held it against the Guards trying to clear a passage. Stones and 
bricks began to be thrown , the soldiers fired back, and several 
persons were here killed and wounded. To heighten the panic 
and confusion, a gang of thieves took to knocking down persons 
worth robbing in the name of the dead queen. At last the officials 
forced a way up the Edgware Road and along the New Road 
as far as Tottenham Court Road, where passage was again 
barred by a throng of carts and waggons, and an angry crowd, 
that pressed the hearse by Drury Lane into the Strand ; so, after 
all, it entered the City amid an unfunereal tumult of exultation, 
jangling with the toll of bells and the boom of minute-guns. 
The Corporation having attended it to the City bounds, the 
funeral pushed on more rapidly to Chelmsford, while the mourners, 
worn out by their long day of exciting scenes, were fain to rest 
at Romford or return to London for the night. 

Hyde Park saw a more solemn sight when the funeral of Queen 
Victoria passed by it in reverent silence and lamenting tears. 
At her coronation it had again been given up to the popular 
amusements of a Fair that gathered all the chief showmen of the 
country, among them " Lord " George Sanger, whose reminis- 
cences go back so far. This time the conduct of the populace 
appears to have been less objectionable, for he tells us that the 
original term of a week was extended by gracious permission. 
Most of us can remember the martial displays that enlivened 
the Park at the Queen's Jubilee, and on the deferred coronation 
of Edward VII. But it will be a dwindling band that can look 
back to the great show of that reign, the Exhibition of 1851, 
when the Crystal Palace erected in Hyde Park was expected to 
prove a Temple of Peace among nations, for whom the gate of 
Janus too soon came to be burst open, once and again. Sir 
Joseph Paxton's giant glass-house, transferred to the heights of 
Norwood, was first set up on the south side of the Park, between 
the Serpentine and Knightsbridge, a space of late years often 
enlivened by Volunteer parades on summer evenings. The 
Exhibition of the next decade took ground farther to the south, 



where remnants of it still stand as annexes of the Victoria and 
Albert Museum. A sort of permanent Exhibition of the British 
Empire was here intended by the Imperial Institute, a design 
that did not take very thriving root ; and part of the building 
is now used as headquarters of the London University. 

Meanwhile, various changes had been going on in this double 
pleasure-ground, where Kensington Gardens is distinguished 
mainly by the exclusion of carriages and by the gates being 
closed at sunset. The " Ring " had been forgotten by the begin- 
ning of last century, when fashion found a longer career in drives 
round the Park edges, and Rotten Row became a display of 
horseflesh and horsemen : 

In trot or canter, on the backs 
Of ponies, hunters, chargers, hacks, 
Proud to display their riders' graces 
Through all imaginable paces 
From walks and ambles up to races. 

But since LuttrelPs dashing day, the police object to racing ; 
while in our time this grew to be a place of careful hygienic 
exercise for the " liver brigade," who make not such an elegant 
troop as do the Amazons cantering at a later hour before admiring 
eyes. The hours of fashion are always liable to change, as also 
the places and opportunities of display that from time to time 
come into vogue. Some of us can remember when the Broad 
Walk in Kensington Gardens was a fashionable rendezvous, that 
seems now to have shifted, toto ccelo, across Hyde Park. 

Old pictures of the Park and its surroundings show how much 
our aediles have done for it in the last century, as our own eyes 
see how much they still might do. The toll-bar at Hyde Park 
Corner was removed in 1825, when also a railing took the place 
of the brick wall along Park Lane. To the opposite corner of 
the Park, the Marble Arch, an imitation of the triumphal arch of 
Constantine, was transferred from its original position at the 
front of Buckingham Palace ; and quite recently it has been 
thrown out into the roadway by paring off a corner to give more 
room for traffic, as has also been done by the Green Park opposite 


Apsley House. All alterations and additions, of course, find 
critical censors. In our day of art-culture, it will hardly be 
believed what an outcry was made about the setting up of the 
Achilles statue, cast out of the cannon of Peninsular victories 
in honour of the Duke of Wellington. This classical monument, 
to be sure, does not seem a fitting one for the tight-strapped 
hero of Waterloo ; but what then shocked the genteel public was 
that a nude figure should be put so boldly before their eyes, as for 
a time to scare away ladies from the new Wellington Drive. 
Popular discontent, again, was excited when a strip of waste 
ground at Hyde Park Corner, taken to belong to the Park, was 
enclosed in the gardens of Apsley House, whose master did not 
always remain a hero for all his countrymen. At the time of 
the Reform agitation, we know, he saw cause to fortify his windows 
with iron shutters. 

London is not happy, as a rule, in its statuary. The Corinthian 
Gate at Hyde Park Corner had been topped by a ludicrous 
equestrian statue of the Iron Duke, so pelted by Punch and other 
critics, that at last it was removed to the seclusion of Aldershot, 
there to inspire Tommy Atkins ; and a more artistic memorial 
now stands in the opened space to the farther side of which the 
arch itself has been transferred. Not much admired is the statue 
of Byron looking over the Park where, as he said — 

. . . the fashionable fair 
Could form a slight acquaintance with fresh air. 

Even the ambitious Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens 
is abused as a gilt pagoda with an idol inside ; but it gets a good 
word from Mr. W. D. Howells as expressing no ignoble idea, if, 
indeed, " by stutters and stammers," and not standing mum like 
so many other " bashful columns . . . not able to say what they 
would be at." In a central glade of the Gardens is now placed 
Watts' Physical Energy, a replica of the monument sent out to 
South Africa for Cecil Rhodes. Another recent addition is the 
statue of Queen Victoria before Kensington Palace, which should 
interest loyal subjects as the work of her daughter, the Duchess 
of Argyll, who has part of this palace as a town residence. 



German visitors may seek out rather, on the south side of the 
palace, a statue of William III., the gift of their Kaiser. 

The best beauties of the Park are its own, helped a little by 
art, perhaps hindered, for it is thought that some of those grand 
trees have lost sap from the ground below them being swept 
too tidily, as is not the way of Nature. Like Horace, I once 
made a narrow escape, when, beside Rotten Row on a still evening, 
without the slightest notice, a few steps in front of me there 
cracked and crashed down an elm branch twenty to thirty feet 
long, barricading all the roadway. But that is a trick elms have 
in the best regulated avenues ; and we must not question the 
gardening skill that gives us in their season such gay groves of 
hawthorn, such glowing banks of rhododendrons and azaleas, 
such bright beds of flowers beside such masses of dappled shade, 
where one may drown oneself from all the struggling life of the 
great city stretched for leagues around. 

Many strangers finding not much else to admire in London, 
are taken by this oasis in its centre. The late Henry James, 
become harcdy a stranger, was moved to wish himself a Govern- 
ment clerk who from a Bayswater home might walk all the way 
to his office on turf, day after day, by some fresh track — down 
the Broad Walk, across the chase-like glades, and along the 
Serpentine, opening away river-like between its wooded and 
meaded banks. " The view from the bridge has an extraordinary 
nobleness, and it has often seemed to me that the Londoner 
twitted with his low standard may point to it with every con- 
fidence. In all the town scenery of Europe there can be few things 
as fine ; the only reproach it is open to is that it begs the question 
by seeming — in spite of its being the pride of five millions of people 
— not to belong to a town at all." Then, beyond the Dell, with 
its rockwork and sub-tropical garden, would come for him the 
trim parterres about the Ring Road, through which he might pass 
on to the Green Park and the Mall, somewhere crossing or skirting 
Rotten Row, that in dull weather suggests to our fanciful author 
a circus whose lamps are out. " The sky that bends over it is 
frequently not a bad imitation of the dingy tent of such an 
establishment. The ghosts of past cavalcades seem to haunt the 


foggy arena, and somehow they are better company than the 
mashers and elongated beauties of current seasons. It is not 
without interest to remember that most of the salient figures of 
English society during the present century — and English society 
means, or rather has hitherto meant, in a large degree English 
history — have bobbed in the saddle between Apsley House and 
Queen's Gate." 

It is only within the last half- century or so that the Park 
lawns have been so thickly edged with flowers. Dust rather 
than bloom is mentioned by eighteenth- century frequenters, 
when Kensington Gardens made a more richly planted contrast, 
under Dutch William much given up to a topiarian display of 
quaintly clipped shrubs, among which Tickell can report : 

Each walk with robes of various dyes bespread 
Seems from afar a moving tulip-bed, 
Where rich brocades and glossy damasks glow, 
And chintz, the rival of the showery bow. 

The sunk fence separating the two areas was one of Queen 
Caroline's improvements, then a new device, as to which one 
knows not whether to take Horace Walpole seriously when he 
explains its name, Ha-ha ! by a rustic's astonishment at being 
brought to a sudden stand. It now seems an emblem of the 
unobtrusive manner in which necessary restrictions are enforced, 
where the chief rule is public convenience and enjoyment. The 
Powder Magazine above the Serpentine makes an apparent 
exception to this rule ; but it, carefully guarded, keeps itself 
in modest retirement, as does its neighbour the Police Station. 
Near the Victoria Gate, there is even a cemetery for pet dogs 
that could scamper freely hereabouts in their life-time. 

On the north side of the Serpentine a classical structure serves 
as station for the Royal Humane Society's aid in case of accidents. 
Liberty of bathing here is an old story, which in former days 
took scandalous licence ; but is now confined to one stretch of the 
water at certain morning and evening hours. Any warm summer 
evening may be witnessed here a scene that has been painted as 
Arcadia in Hyde Park, and might make a gratis Life School 


for impecunious artists. Hundreds, thousands, of men and 
boys are sitting or skipping on the grass, many of them half 
stripped in their eagerness for the stroke of seven. Suddenly 
swells a cry of " All in !" Off go shirts of every hue, as if swept 
down by a hurricane, and in a minute the bank is alive with 
little Adams racing to be first into the water, followed more 
deliberately by troops of taller divers and swimmers, who have 
now to assume some minimum of costume before the eyes of 
envious strollers perspiring in frock coats and high hats. It seems 
a sign of changed morals that women come walking through this 
throng, even some who have the appearance of respectability. 
In my hot youth, these Dianas would have been hooted away ; 
but now no Act aeon seems to mind them. My plunges into the 
Serpentine, indeed, were made in the morning, when the company 
was more select. A friend of mine who took to this practice 
when well over fifty, and kept it up all the year round to the 
benefit of his health, as he believed, reported that on the coldest 
morning he had seventeen faithful companions of the bath, 
nearly all of them elderly men, the youngsters of our day being 
more Sybaritic or keeping later hours. One of the sights of the 
Park, for spectators fit and few, is a swimming race held here on 
Christmas morning, that last year brought together some fifty 
competitors to be baffled by ice. I must own to never having 
seen this Spartan contest ; but time was when I belonged to a 
band pledged to begin the year by diving into the sea at 6 a.m. 
by the light of one dip guttering at the end of a pier. 

The Serpentine is also used for boating, an exercise frequently 
complicated, one observes, by the fact of young men and maidens 
seeing cause to keep their eyes too much in the boat, absorbed 
by a pastime that in all parts of the Park seems always in season. 
Skating is an amusement more rarely allowed by capricious 
winters and careful authorities. The Round Pond in Kensington 
Gardens makes a basin for miniature yachting, to the delight 
of juvenile mariners and some ancient ones. Close to this, 
paternal authorities have recently opened a children's playground, 
including a sand heap that gives bare-legged little Londoners the 
illusion of being at the seaside. Some years ago the idle state- 


rooms of Kensington Palace, adorned with pictures brought from 
Hampton Court, were thrown open by desire of the late Queen, 
whose home this was in childhood ; and an exhibition of her toys 
proved more popular with the British public than Wren's handi- 
work or the carving of Grinling Gibbons in the Orangery. It 
was in her early youth that Kensington Gardens had been 
opened to the public, where, for a time, clothes not stained by 
work were required as passport to the courtly precincts. 

Foreigners complain of the dulness of the Parks, as of all 
London, on Sunday ; but in this respect some change has come 
about, which I, for one, call an improvement, since I worked 
for it as a Vice-President of the National Sunday League that 
championed this relaxation all along. A few bold spirits were the 
real motive power of the Sunday League, which got less credit 
than it deserved for bearing the burden and heat of the day, 
because another society stepped in at the eleventh hour to share 
the honours of victory. When we began our agitation, the 
public-house was the only place of amusement open on Sunday, 
and that naturally too well frequented. I remember a man 
getting into an omnibus one Sunday forenoon, who explained to 
the conductor that he did not care where he went : " put me 
out anywhere as soon as it is one o'clock," when he could find 
hospitable doors open in every quarter. The Sunday League 
fought steadily against this state of things ; it obtained a series 
of legal decisions by which its coach was driven through two 
obstructive Sabbatarian Acts, of Charles II. and George II., 
one really directed against conventicles, the other against dis- 
orderly houses ; it took halls for lectures and concerts, which 
a judge pronounced not incapable of being registered as religious 
meetings ; it financed these undertakings, since no charge for 
admission could be made ; it started Sunday bands in the Parks, 
where they are now supplied by public authority ; it ran Sunday 
excursions to the seaside ; it won over Broad Churchmen and 
clergymen, some of whom volunteered to act as doorkeepers 
and attendants for the national collections on Sunday afternoons ; 
and at last the justice of its cause moved Parliament — the 
obstructive House of Lords sooner than the chapel-ridden House 



of Commons — to open our museums and galleries on the one 
day when most of our fellow-citizens have a chance of visiting 
them. There are still Sabbatarian laws, falling more and more 
rusty, as they can be put into action only by a common informer, 
who, except for some meddlesome fanatic here and there, has 
ceased to come forward since magistrates have docked him of his 
fees. Most of the small shops open on Sunday could be prose- 
cuted, if anyone cared to prosecute them, though certain perish- 
able articles of food have always had licence of sale, as we know 
from the poet — 

The feathered race on pinions skim the air, 
Not so the codfish, and still less the bear : 
This roams the wood, carniv'rous for his prey ; 
That with soft roe, pursues his watery way : — 
This, slain by hunters, yields his shaggy hide ; 
That, caught by fishers, is on Sundays cried. 

Sunday, of course, is the popular day in the Parks. A century 
ago, it appears that on other days it was almost abandoned to 
fine folk, who on Sundays had to put up with unpleasant staring 
and crowding. It was not for half a century or so later that, in 
Mrs. Proudie's period, the aristocracy set an example of Sabbath 
quiet, and only their servants might be seen driving here. Now, 
it is to be feared, the children of fortune drive farther afield ; 
but in Hyde Park, after church hours, a most select crowd may 
be seen gathered on foot for a Sunday parade near the Grosvenor 
Gate, where it is whispered that some prayer-books carried as 
phylacteries have not been opened in any church ; and, indeed, 
the reporters of cheap papers are more concerned to note how 
Lady This wore white toile de sole and a sloping hat of black 
crinoline, while Mrs. That looked very smart in sage green with 
a lovely ermine mantle, but her daughter was all in black, relieved 
by one long white plume. Such a show of pride aping humility 
does not go so far back as Tittlebat Titmouse's day, whose Sunday 
delight was to gaze on the equipages of fashion. In 1855, Lord 
Robert Grosvenor's Bill for curtailing popular pleasures on 
Sunday, roused a mob to riotous protest, which took the 



form of hooting and pelting the carriages of Sabbath-breakers 
in the Park ; and that demonstration may have helped to prick 
lordly consciences. 

Modern riots have been tame beside those recorded of our 
hot-headed forefathers. The most serious one this generation 
can recall is in 1866, when, the Reform League's meeting having 
been shut out of Hyde Park, an excited mob threw down the 
railings, and a Home Secretary was moved to tears by the risk 
of collision between the troops and the people, most of whom, 
as usual in such cases, hardly knew why they were gathered 
together. It was my chance to witness a later disturbance in 
the Park, which might rather be described as an ebullition of 
the exuberant patriotism that in democratic states makes a 
more serious menace to the peace of nations than does the 
ambition of kings or the cautious machination of statesmen. 
Bruin was the bugbear of that day, when the Russian Ambassador 
was insulted in the Park, and saved from hustling only by the 
interference of some gentlemen. Others ran to protect a humbler 
victim of popular feeling, an odd-looking little fellow, waving a 
flag, against whom went up the cry that he was a partisan of 
Russia. A crowd of some hundred or two closed upon him, 
whom he kept off gallantly, swinging his flag a la moulinet as he 
retreated ; but presently he was knocked down, and the flag 
snatched from his hands ; then solvuntur tabulce risu, for it turned 
out to be the Union Jack ! Later in the afternoon I saw Glad- 
stone's windows broken in Harley Street, and Thomas Carlyle 
turning away from the senseless throng, with what thoughts one 
could imagine. 

Since the attack on the Park railings, our rulers have seen 
well to throw open the gates for public demonstrations, held 
usually on Sundays, in the openest area on the north side, with 
much braying of brass bands, fluttering of emblematic flags, 
and popping of gingerbeer bottles, as accompaniment to blatant 
oratory that is for the most part lost on the mass of the crowd, 
packed round perhaps half a dozen rostrums. Suffragists, 
Licensed Victuallers, philanthropists, democrats, here meet in 
turn to proclaim their wrongs or sympathies ; but it is only the 


inner circles who seem to take the cause very seriously, as a 
rule, the long processions fringing off into a more or less good 
humoured picnic in fine weather. When enthusiasm is damped 
by our sullen skies, the audience will have to make up in earnest- 
ness what it lacks in numbers ; but, however hoarse the speakers 
can shout themselves, no threatened institution seems to be one 
penny the worse, except our patient police, on whom falls the 
burden of such a show. 

At the north-eastern corner, nicknamed the " Tyburn Oratory," 
eloquence is always flowing on a fine summer evening, and most 
loudly on Sunday afternoon. Here religion, or irreligion, is the 
common theme over which open-air preachers, Salvationists, 
socialists, anarchists, teetotallers, and other more or less well- 
meaning conversionists and cranks strive to outbawl each 
other at such close quarters that sometimes the heated ele- 
ments run together as an explosive compound. More often, indeed, 
their hearers show an impartial indifference, sauntering from one 
doctrine to another in the way of pastime, but now and then the 
flock falls to arguing or jeering against the volunteer shepherd, 
to whom, poor man, is forbidden that one most Catholic rite, 
the making a collection. Such miscellaneous congregations are 
gaily dappled by uniforms of Guardsmen and other heroes, who on 
Sundays frequent this corner, not so much with a view of edifica- 
tion as because it makes a sweetheart exchange. It is said 
that Mars here comes into somewhat mercenary relations with 
Venus, who is expected to pay for the honour of parading herself 
in scarlet company. I have even been told, but do not answer 
for it, that the tariff differs according to the arm of the service 
to be leant on ; that a Life Guardsman's fee is half-a-crown, while 
your plain T. Atkins has to be content with a shilling ; that a 
smart Hussar or a stalwart Highlander also comes expensive ; 
but I am not informed how Territorial khaki stands in this 
market. A more authentic fact, which, if they were aware of it, 
should shadow the holiday spirits of our defenders, is that this 
corner of the Park once made a place of military execution, 
perhaps chosen for the genius loci of Tyburn tree ! 

The best of those preachers I have heard, so far as elocution 


went, was a German who used to hold forth in his own language, 
not, indeed, at the Marble Arch, but in Regent's Park, near 
the entrance to the Zoo, where is another such bazaar of divers 
counsels in politics and religion. This gentleman appeared to 
be much in earnest, and his organ was worth listening to as a 
lesson in German ; but I fear it was vox and little else one caught 
some way off, usually trumpeting against the Pope in a style that 
would have delighted Orangemen. Peter war nimmer in Rom — 
das ist eine Luge ! one heard long before coming in sight of a so 
vehement Boanerges, who would go on repeating such state- 
ments till his own backers felt the need of changing the subject. 
But when they pulled his coat-tails as a hint, he would turn round 
with Ein Augeriblick ! then pour on as fluently round his in- 
exhaustible point, till at last they were fain to silence him by 
striking up a hymn long before his testimony had run dry. 

Thus unawares I have carried the reader into Regent's Park, 
so called as laid out by George the Magnificent, who designed 
treating himself to another palace here, and Regent Street was 
to have been an avenue connecting it with Carlton House. This, 
originally known as Marylebone Park, was also Church land 
turned into a Tudor hunting-ground, then " slighted " under the 
Commonwealth, when Cromwell marked its timber for use in 
his navy. Allowed to fall into fields, till restored as a royal 
Park, it came to be opened only at the beginning of Queen 
Victoria's reign. It measures more than Hyde Park by a 
hundred acres or so, but is cut up by several private enclosures, 
such as a Baptist College, Bedford College, and St. Dunstan's 
Lodge, where the clock of St. Dunstan's, Fleet Street, with its 
automaton strikers, was transferred, as was the name of St. 
Katherine's, a hospital shamefully demolished at the East-end. 

The best known of these encroachments is the Gardens of the 
Zoological Society, containing the London sight dearest to children 
and country cousins, unless it be Madame Tussaud's waxworks, 
near the south side of Regent's Park. Even when they cannot 
pay for admission, youngsters may hear from without the fear- 
some roar serving as a lion's dinner bell ; and happy are those 
treated to a chance of feeding the monkeys or mounting the 


elephants, that by sober attention to this business earn many a 
tit-bit. The elephants are perhaps first favourites ; and a loud 
outcry was raised when the Society sold Jumbo to America, its 
officials knowing, as the meddlesome protesters did not, that his 
temper was not to be trusted. Every amateur, indeed, is apt to 
have his own fancy, like that incomplete zoologist who demanded 
to be first taken to the dangeroos. In vain the kangeroos were 
exhibited to him ; and it was only by accident that he came upon 
his cynosure in a cage labelled, " These animals are dangerous." 
But, over and above being a garden of marvels for children, the 
** Zoo " contains a good all-round collection of animals to give it 
rank as a public institution, the father of which was Sir Stamford 
Raffles, remembered also as founder of Singapore. 

On the other side of the Park, the Inner Ring drive encloses 
the Botanic Gardens, an institution that does not flourish so 
well, perhaps as not having been so fully opened by its Fellows 
to the public, though often made the scene of lively fetes. Beside 
it is the ground of the Toxophilite Society, aiming to represent 
the archers of Old London. There is room here for cricket and 
football and for such displays as the Cart Horse Parade on Whit 
Monday. Regent's Park has not the same stamp of fashion 
as Hyde Park ; but its Broad Walk, its Italian Garden, and its 
Lake are praiseworthy features, set amid a rim of most respect- 
able terraces in the stuccoed classic style affected by Nash and 
his royal patron. The branching water has one tragic memory, 
dating from 1867, when forty skaters were drowned under broken 
ice, as need not happen again in a depth shallowed to four feet. 
On tiie north side the Park has sunk into it a canal of business, 
beyond which rises Primrose Hill, an Alp let some two hundred 
feet high, to be ascended for a wide view of London's smoke. 

But how is one to describe and compliment all the parks of 
London ? Battersea Park, with its sub-tropical garden and fine 
landscape features, which Besant called the most beautiful of 
all ; Victoria Park, with its lakes and its turf trodden by the 
hobnails of three boroughs ; Southwark Park, hidden away 
behind a wilderness of docks ; Finsbury Park, so far from Fins- 
bury ; a mere catalogue of them might be spun out into a 


chapter ! Almost every suburb has in our time bought or had 
given it some private park caught by the tide of building, to be 
turned into a play-place, often around an old mansion that 
proves rather a white elephant to the new ownership, wasted in 
mere tea-rooms, unless it can be adapted as a public library. 
Bits of once village green or common have been dressed up for the 
same service. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of 
London have followed royal example in handing over to the public 
part of their palace grounds, where already, indeed, they had not 
much privacy of enjoyment. Many of our old churchyards, too, 
bloom for a living generation less disposed to be gloomily reminded 
of the dead. Among recent acquisitions may be mentioned 
Springfield Park at Clapton, laid out on a high bank of the Lea ; 
the Ruskin Park, formed from that lover of beauty's Heme 
Hill grounds, not far from Brockwell Park, distinguished by its 
old-fashioned flower garden ; and the Gladstone Park of Dollis 
Hill, so named in honour of the statesman who here spent quiet 
week ends at Lord Aberdeen's modest mansion, now standing 
on the edge of London. 

What capital has such a ring of paradises, natural and artificial, 
as surrounds London, many of them once princely or prelatic 
parks ? We will not boast of the Lea Marshes nor of Worm- 
wood Scrubs, that, among his friends, fitted a rude nickname on 
Carlyle's beard ; but we may ask all the cities to match Hampstead 
Heath, with its kite-tail of playfields stretching across almost 
to the Waterlow Park of Highgate, so finely looking over London. 
Then in a wide circle come Stanmore Common, Harrow Weald, 
Ealing Common, Hampton Court, Kew Gardens, Richmond 
Park, Wimbledon Common, and a whole string of others in South 
London, passing on by Peckham Rye to Blackheath, Greenwich 
Park, Woolwich Common, Bostall Wood, from which we jump 
across the river to Barking Level, where it seems best merely 
to look and pass on. But in the far East is one of London's 
largest open spaces, Wanstead Flats, at the end of which Wanstead 
Park with its lakes and avenues, designed to rival Versailles, 
and still nursing one of the noblest heronries in England, is hardly 
known by name to most Londoners. This playground of the 

st. Paul's from hampstead heath 


Essex boroughs once made only a corner of Epping Forest, 
preserved for the public by the spirit and liberality of the City 
Corporation. The adjoining Hainault Forest has now been 
added as a picnic place, ten miles out of London. Still farther 
afield, the sumptuous City holds pleasure grounds for its children, 
West Wickham Common in Kent, the Farthing Downs in Surrey, 
and Burnham Beeches in Bucks, while in Berkshire the holiday 
citizen finds Windsor Park as freely open to him as are St. James's 
and Kensington Gardens. 


If one side of London has become the chief scene of consumption, 
the other, lying beside its river port, was early destined to the 
duty of supply. Passing over the City, that makes a distributing 
agency between them, for a dingy contrast to the West-end 
let us turn eastward to swarming square miles of streets, docks, 
and factories, seldom visited by strangers, not often by fellow- 
Londoners, unless in the way of business, philanthropy, or chance 
curiosity. The boroughs of this end, whose population might 
fill a dozen cathedral cities, have recently had some talk of 
dignifying themselves by the general title of Eastminster ; but 
where is their minster ? By rights it should be St. Dunstan's 
ancient church at Stepney. The main body of the East-end is 
composed of these nine Tower Hamlets — Wapping, Ratcliff, 
Poplar, Limehouse, Spitalfields, Bethnal Green, Bow, and Mile 
End Old and New Towns, now run together as populous divisions 
of Stepney, that port parish to which are said to belong all 
English children born at sea, as our early colonies east and west 
were fondly tacked on to the royal manor of East Greenwich. 
The termination of its name, originally Stebenhithe, seems ex- 
ceptional in denoting not an island but a harbour. 

The most time-honoured structure at this end, which stands 
just upon the City edge, is the Tower, now dwarfed to a toy beside 
that lofty Tower Bridge that seems designed as a gigantic gateway 
and portcullis for the port of London. When a once formidable 
fortress was built here to overawe the City, the East-end could 
have been at no disadvantage in the way of fashion. For a time, 
William the Conqueror took his quarters at Barking, now the 
eastern terminus of the District Railway, then an independent 




fishing town upon its navigable creek. Edward the Confessor, 
whose Buckingham Palace was Westminster, had a Windsor 
in Essex at Havering-atte-Bower, which long continued to be a 
home for dowager queens. Mr. Loftie gives the style of the 
East Minster to the Abbey of St. Mary of Graces on Tower Hill, 
which seems not to have flourished long, and was turned into an 
Ordnance Office. It was on this side of the City that Mr. Pepys 
lived, close to the parish church where he is buried ; and here he 
attended to his Navy business, till from his official home in 
Crutched Friars rising fortunes carried him to what was then the 
West-end, a street off the Strand ; and he died at a Clapham 
retreat, such as long after his day might be built on the meadows 
of the Lea, now no site for eligible villas. Besant laments 
another vanished group of ecclesiastical buildings which might 
have served the East-end for its rallying point, St. Katherine's 
by the Tower, a noble church of King Stephen's reign, destroyed 
by nineteenth-century vandals, when its precincts were sub- 
merged in the deluge of docks, its hospital only being transplanted 
to the groves of Regent's Park, and its very name is now best 
remembered through his own novels, that make the most kindly 
guide to the East -end. 

Sir Walter Besant, who died while still busy on his monumental 
survey of London, was not a Londoner by birth, but a Portsmouth 
boy, eventually settled in London after some years of school- 
mastering at Leamington and in the Mauritius. In that British 
conquest rather than colony, as it is, he got hints for beginning 
his literary life with studies of old French literature, from which 
he passed to more profitable success as a popular novelist, at 
first in collaboration with James Rice, Editor of All the Year 
Round. Those early rollicking stories are often spoken of as 
Besant's title to fame ; but my vote is cast for some of the novels 
" with a purpose " which he wrote independently, while it may 
be confessed that at last the vein ran a little dry and thin. Our 
gloomy stirrers of problems and cackling hoverers on the verge 
of the improper have taught their public to sneer at Besant's 
hearty sentiment, which will recommend his best work long after 
more painful art is laid on dusty shelves. The spices that help 



to embalm fiction are style, which he had at least clear and careful, 
humour, in which his taste was not too fine for the average reader, 
and sympathy, that is akin to true humour as well as to pathos. 
Him who had taken all London as his province, the East-end 
touched to keenest sympathy, infused through his most character- 
istic books, All Sorts and Conditions of Men and Children of 
Gib eon, by which he sought to play the part of a practical reformer. 

What seemed to him the most crying evil of this region was 
its joylessness ; and so catching was his zeal to meet such a want 
that the stately pleasure-house he decreed in imagination took 
shape and name as the People's Palace. But the materializa- 
tion of his dreams proved somewhat of a disappointment to a 
spirit more Hellenic than were those he longed to benefit. The 
young men could not play billiards without betting ; the maidens 
were more ready to romp than to dance with maidenly grace ; 
and of all the proposed delights music proved the most thriving, 
hardiest and eldest among the sisters nine. The recreative side 
of this institution fell into the background, overshadowed by 
educational agencies pieced on to it ; and I understand that 
Besant lost interest in his creation when it had sobered down to 
be mainly an East London College, worked under the patronage 
of a City Company. But so long as it stands, it will be a memorial 
to the father of a school of novelists who have roused our 
interest in the East-end by pictures of its hitherto obscure life. 

The People's Palace arose well out upon the great artery of the 
East-end, running broad and fairly straight for some four miles 
to Stratford, a highway pronounced by Besant one of the noblest 
approaches to London, opened through a quarter as little known 
to most Englishmen as if it lay in " the wildest part of Colorado." 
It goes north-eastward from Aldgate Pump, an old landmark, 
though this is not one of the oldest gates of the City, the name 
to be understood apparently as Ale rather than Auld. Here 
the road starts as the High Street of Whitechapel, a name stained 
by darker shades of reputation than it now seems to deserve. 
One taint was as scene of a series of revolting murders perpetrated 
by a miscreant never stripped of his mask as " Jack the Kipper," 
who for a time kept the women of this quarter in terror. His 



outrages seem to have been prompted by that form of insane 
lust named Sadism from the Marquis de Sade, who for such 
crimes was punished by imprisonment before the Revolution ; 
but when he glorified them in novels at a later date, Napoleon 
sent him to an asylum ; and the like is believed to have been 
the end of Jack the Ripper's fearsome career. 

The Whitechapel Road holds on to become the Mile End Road, 
the Bow Road and the Stratford Road, a long line of monotonous 
meanness, often choked by heavy traffic and saddened by frequent 
funerals on their way to eastern cemeteries. To the north of 
this line stretch Shoreditch, Spitalfields, and Bethnal Green, 
where weaving seems the most characteristic industry, introduced 
by the Huguenot hive that swarmed here from persecuting 
France. They brought into our country both capital and profitable 
crafts, like the silk weaving of Spitalfields, where their descendants 
may still be found. But if we look into what was once the 
dignity of Spital Square, whose mansions cherish some carved 
fireplaces and mantels that may be the work of Grinling Gibbons, 
we shall see one corner of it taken up by a Jewish Synagogue ; 
and not far off, only the other day, a Baptist Chapel was adapted 
to the worship of the same stubborn faith. 

It is well known how this area, on the side next the City, has 
been colonized by Jews of the poorer class, in late years recruited 
by numerous immigrations from Eastern Europe, an element of 
our population now sifted by law before being admitted to the 
asylum in which these down-trodden strangers soon learn to 
stand upright as freemen. It has been well said that every 
country has the Jews it deserves ; and the poorest son of Hounds- 
ditch cuts a better figure than the greasy gaberdines of Poland 
and Galicia. As for the richer Jews, who flit to the West-end, 
or as far as Maida Vale, they have long ago learned to hold up 
their heads among neighbour Christians, under whose names 
some of them are apt to disguise their own ; and their faith 
grows so compromising that latitudinarian reformers talk of 
amalgamating their inconvenient Sabbath with the national day 
of rest. 

Jews are understood to have come to England with William 


the Conqueror, if not sooner, and the Old Jewry, off Cheapside, 
preserves the name of the first sanctuary assigned them. The 
persistence of this race against popular hatred, massacre and 
banishment, is a commonplace of history. When they ventured 
to build themselves a synagogue in London, it was seized by the 
orthodox citizens, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary as a pious 
practical joke. Every popular commotion could find its line 
of least resistance among those unwarlike strangers, turned out 
again and again, only to slink back to their uneasy quarters. 
Alternately protected and robbed by our kings, they yet grew 
rich on the perilous trade of usury, barred to chivalrous pride 
and Christian orthodoxy, till a flight of Italian money-dealers 
settled in London as formidable competitors. Long after the 
law took the Jews safely under its wing, they seemed to keep the 
memory of their troubled past by huddling together into dark 
and unsavoury slums, " clotted spiders' webs," sometimes 
" swept away by the besom of the social reformer, and the spiders 
have scurried off into darker crannies." It needs an intimate 
footing to see the East-end Jewry as Mr. Zangwill sees it. 

Not here in our London Ghetto the gates and gaberdines of the 
olden Ghetto of the Eternal City ; yet no lack of signs external by 
which one may know it, and those who dwell therein. Its narrow 
streets have no speciality of architecture ; its dirt is not picturesque. 
It is no longer the stage for the high-buskined tragedy of massacre 
and martyrdom ; only for the obscurer, deeper tragedy that evolves 
from the pressure of its own inward forces, and the long-drawn-out 
tragi-comedy of sordid and shifty poverty. Natheless, this London 
Ghetto of ours is a region where, amid uncleanness and squalor, the 
rose of romance blows yet a little longer in the raw air of English 
reality ; a world which hides beneath its stony and unlovely surface 
an inner world of dreams, fantastic and poetic as the mirage of the 
Orient where they were woven, of superstitions grotesque as the 
cathedral gargoyles of the Dark Ages in which they had birth. And 
over all lie tenderly some streaks of celestial light shining from the face 
of the great Lawgiver. 

This writer, for all his sympathy, hardly flatters the brethren 
of whose abasement he is not ashamed, and whose appearance 
and demeanour do not win favour from prejudiced outsiders. 



But if such aliens often prove undesirable, notably as ready to 
work and to make others work for small wages, the Jews have 
their virtues as well as their defects, in some points offering 
lessons to the Christians with whom at this end of the town they 
are slow to amalgamate. Houndsditch, the old City boundary, 
has become a proverb for the edge of our un walled Ghetto, its 
Rag Fair flourishing squalidly whereabouts once walked in 
orthodox meditation the Crutched Friars and the Poor Clare 
Minor Sisterhood that godmothered the Minories. This Sunday 
fair dies hard about a cramped thoroughfare that has had its 
new buildings rechristened as Middlesex Street, while its old name 
of Petticoat Lane has been handed over in jest to the ladies' clubs 
and milliners of Dover Street. Growing a little sensitive as to 
its repute, Houndsditch, that ex-depository of dead dogs, has 
also hankered after baptizing itself afresh, when sarcastic tongues 
hinted that, as matters now stand, it might well exchange names 
with Park Lane. Here the patois of Yiddish, a mixture of 
corrupt Hebrew and German jargon, seems as familiar as English, 
and shop windows and placards soon cease to strike the Christian 
e ye by their display of Oriental characters. Many of these poor 
people spend no small part of their earnings in having their 
children taught a language that is to them as Latin to the Chris- 
tian. At present a movement is on foot for teaching Hebrew 
in the public schools, that their scholars may be made fit to take 
part in a Zionist migration for which the English Jews seem not 
very keen. 

The place of Petticoat Lane has been morally taken by Went- 
worth Street, parallel with Whitechapel, now choked by a squalid 
and unsavoury fair of quite outlandish aspect, but for the police- 
man standing watchful at each corner, where shops bear such 
names as Isaac and Cohen. About this street seem now to be 
the thickest masses of Jewish habitation ; and the police can tell 
us that, post hoc or propter hoc, the character of the neighbourhood 
has much improved since its foul haunts of crime gave place to 
tall school buildings and blocks of lodging-houses in which 
Semitic tenants pack so closely. Now the Jews spread north- 
wards and eastwards as they find accommodating landlords, when 


displaced from their old quarters by clearances in streets where 
warehouses take the place of crowded dwellings and small work- 
shops. They have invaded Spitalfields in force, and as far as 
Stepney Green the name Rothschild Buildings marks an outpost 
that may soon be a new citadel. Their sporadic diffusion is 
shown in a map prepared for Messrs. Russell and Lewis' inter- 
esting study of The Jew in London. 

It appears that there are at least one hundred thousand Jews 
settled in the East-end, increasing and multiplying after their 
manner, the majority being of recent arrival from less tolerant 
lands. These new-comers are more ignorant, more superstitious, 
more bound to the letter of their law than the half- Anglicized Jews, 
who often come to take their religion very easily, to neglect the 
synagogue, and to forget the Sabbath. Religion and persecution 
have hitherto held this scattered race together ; now that some 
of them marry sons and daughters of Heth, it remains to be seen 
whether in the sunshine they may not be apt to throw off a cloak 
of national sentiment wrapped all the closer about them under 
biting winds. But the sentiment, even among laxer believers, 
still remains strong enough to resent entire absorption into the 
body of English citizenship, while some of them, as one of the 
above-mentioned authors puts it, would like " to stake out a 
claim in the promised land without renouncing the flesh-pots of 
Egypt." Through good or evil fortune this people seldom fails 
in the merit of standing by one another, the sunken masses at 
the East-end being buoyed up by help from rich and cultured 
sons of Israel, many of whom no more reverence their fathers' 
law than — but comparisons are odious ! 

The Jews are not the only folk who here do business in the 
open air. All sorts of street-sellers outbawl one another in and 
about Whitechapel ; and there is even a hay-market still held 
in this roomy thoroughfare. The great markets of London, 
as a rule, differ from those of Continental cities in that the former 
are seldom visited by housewives, but deal rather with the 
middleman who brings his wares to their doors. Attempts made 
to provide a popular market under cover, as by Lady Burdett- 
Coutts in Bethnal Green, have somehow proved a failure. The 


customer of the poorer class prefers the chances of street dealing ; 
so for all the City's monopoly of marketing in and around its 
precincts, for all the complaints of shopkeepers, for all the harrying 
of the police upon what has grown to seem a right, certain corners 
and streets are invaded by stall-sellers, who on Saturday nights 
almost block up some narrow streets, while they find plenty of 
room on the broad pavement opposite the London Hospital. 
But one corner of Whitechapel is silent and empty of a Saturday, 
when the traders of Wentworth Street are keeping their Sabbath 
more strictly — so far as this class is concerned— than his will be 
observed by the Christian costermonger, whose busiest day lasts 
till late at night among a population living on weekly wages. 

Everybody has heard of the London costermongers, who make 
what may be called the regular army of these street vendors, 
itinerant or at fixed stalls, equipped as horse or foot, pushing 
a barrow or driving a donkey, which, except for its holiday loads, 
is said to be more often than not kindly treated, even to sharing 
sometimes the home of the family. The name is at least as old 
as Shakespeare's day, and appears to have originally implied 
apple-seller, from which the coster extended his dealings to fruit, 
vegetables, and fish, such perishable goods as can be sold without 
a licence. Nuts and oranges, that form his most rudimentary 
stock-in-trade, may account for an old connection with Spain 
said to be testified by the title of the coster's donah, and 
perhaps by the " pearlies " with which he adorns himself, like 
an Andalusian muleteer. This has been a peculiar class, cherish- 
ing customs, morals, tricks of trade and a slang of their own ; but 
one understands that their esprit de corps is a good deal broken up 
of late years along with the traditions of other bodies. The 
musical street-cries that used to resound through London have 
almost all gone, though now and again one hears some cracked 
voice piping out the once familiar note of " Sweet lavender, 
two bunches a penny !" 

Jewish faces are often to be seen, on Saturdays and all, among 
the street merchants of penny toys and trifles, who at Christmas 
time almost blocked up Ludgate Hill by their gutter-fair, till it 
had to be dispersed by the police. I gather that the regular 


costermongers are not much recruited from the Jews, who take 
so kindly to other kinds of small trade, peddling and hawking, 
notoriously in the article of old clothes. They also provide 
industrious hands for the East -end manufactures of ready-made 
garments, boots, cheap furniture, tobacco, sweets, matches, 
and so on. Bearing burdens is less in their line ; and, indeed, 
towards the riverside and the docks their advance has been 
checked by a jealous tribe of Gibeonites, whose Canaan lies 
about the Bay of Dublin or the Cove of Cork. 

Here we come upon another section of the East- end, that 
has for highway the modern Commercial Road, forking from 
Whitechapel a little way beyond Aldgate Station. This long 
thoroughfare strikes straight east for Limehouse and Poplar, 
beyond which it becomes the Barking Road. To the south 
of it lurk the riverside slums of Wapping, Ratcliff, Shad well, 
and Limehouse, a neighbourhood of ill-odorous fame, which 
had as one of its chief industries plundering sailors of the wages 
they have been said to earn by working like horses to spend 
them like asses. Pilfering, too, was hereditary among a popula- 
tion who, before the days of police and dock-gates, preyed like 
rats upon ships' cargoes, unscared by the familiar bugbear of 
Execution Dock, where pirates used to be hanged in the rising 
tide. But this quarter has been somewhat swept if not garnished 
of late years ; and now that big ships come to be berthed lower 
down the river, Jack is not so much in evidence, nor in liquor, as 
when Wapping Old Stairs made his gate to a rackety Elysium, 
after longer voyages than are the rule in the steam age. In such 
comparative reformation, a persecuted part was played by the 
clergy of more than one church that stands out pointing to 
heaven among the mass of mean roofs — 

Its priestliness 
Lending itself to hide their beastliness. 

The Swedish church in St. George's, by the way, could be 
looked to as a shrine till the other day, when the body of the 
mystic Swedenborg was transferred hence to his own country. 
There seems no want of churches in the East -end, but rather 


of congregations, whose diligent pastors cannot often compel them 
to come in from the highways and byways, where they prove 
willing to take all they can get from the Church, except its 
teachings. Only a very small proportion of the East-enders 
trouble themselves to go to church or chapel on the day marked 
by a chance to lie in bed till the hour of the Sunday dinner or of 
the public-house's opening. Were wages paid at the beginning 
of the week, rather than at the end, Sunday would have a better 
chance of being kept by prayer and fasting. 

At the end of Chiswick Mall, not far from where William 
Morris exhorted to a more decorative pattern of life, there is 
a queer riverside slum that got the nickname of Little Wapping : 
this would give the stranger a notion of Wapping in miniature, 
without taking him much out of the sightseer's beaten track. 
But if he desire a peep into the real Wapping, he has only to keep 
by the river from Tower Bridge, or he may turn down to Wapping 
Wall out of East Smithfield by a roofless tunnel mocked with the 
name of Nightingale Lane (i.e., Knighten-Guild Lane). What 
he will see can only be recommended as " characteristic." He 
finds himself imprisoned between the Docks and the river, in a 
crooked lane of tall wharf -warehouses, spanned by bridges over- 
head, and here and there broken by stairs that give access to the 
mudlarks' playground on the shore. The " Old Stairs " sung by 
Dibdin turn off opposite the Rectory of Wapping Church, beside 
" the Town of Kamsgate," one of several small public-houses 
that, with here and there a block of lodging-house " buildings," 
alone break the monotony of this narrow thoroughfare. After 
following it for a long mile, one reaches Wapping Station at the 
end of the once celebrated Thames Tunnel ; then a little farther 
on is sighted a glass dome marking one entrance to a new tunnel, 
long, airy, and well lit, that leads over to the rather less depressing 
scenes of Rotherhithe. But here the explorer might turn up to 
Shadwell, and strike back along its High Street, now behind the 
line of Docks, keeping straight on by the once notorious Ratcliff 
Highway, in our day somewhat deodorized and re-christened 
St. George's Street, from the stalwart Church of St. George's- 
in-the-East, whose old graveyard supplies an oasis of public 


garden. A little farther on is Jamrach's emporium of wild 
beasts, that have been known to get loose into the highway 
and its byways, where on a Saturday night they might find 
themselves not without congenial society. Else, the stranger has 
no need to fear, for he will meet policemen, sometimes going 
suggestively in pairs ; and the street is lighted up by shops of 
marine store-dealers and others. A peep into some of the side 
courts and alleys will prove enough for all but the most earnest 
sociologist. Wellclose Square shows a more decent face ; but 
it is hard to realize that here was born the author of Sandford 
and Merton. Through this and other openings on the right one 
may escape to the parallel line of Cable Street, whence tram-rails 
lead to the bustle of Whitechapel, from what are perhaps the 
East-end's darkest corners. 

If we follow the line of docks, it would bring us to Poplar 
and Blackwall, cutting across the Isle of Dogs that bulges out 
towards Greenwich. This flat promontory, banked up against 
the tide, was once a marsh, said to have got its name from the 
kennels of the Greenwich palace, another guess being at a corrup- 
tion of Isle of Ducks ; but future philologists will perhaps interpret 
it as Isle of Docks. A large part of its surface is cut up into 
dock basins, the rest given up to various recently introduced 
industries, not all of marine flavour, but mostly of such mechanical 
toil as " degrades the body, dwarfs the mind, and stunts the 
soul." So declares the Reverend Richard Free, who, in the 
account of his labours here, which he humorously entitles Seven 
Years' Hard, thus describes his first introduction to them. 

The dreariness was unspeakable. Far as the eye could reach were 
nothing but chimneys and dead walls, dead walls and chimneys, mean 
houses, chimneys and dead walls. The long, curving street, swept 
by wind and rain, was empty save for children by twos and threes 
playing at the open doors, groups of men bolstering up the beer shops, 
or little knots of women gossiping at the street corners. It was a scene 
of utter desolation. 

But suddenly, as I gazed with a sense of petrifaction, a blast of 
sound split the solid silence ; and instantly, as it were through the 
rent, scrambled a hurry and scurry of noises, of big bells and little 
bells, screaming sirens and shrill whistles, all clanging and banging, 


and shrieking and squeaking, and moaning and groaning, until the 
air seemed thick with wild wrangling presences, and the heart was full 
of mighty emotions. Yet still the rain-swept road was deserted, save 
for the playing children and the sodden men and the gossiping women. 
But even as I mused on the strangeness of it all, came my first great 
sensation. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the empty street 
swarmed with a motley mass of humanity. Women, with hair as white 
as snow, who had been working all day in rooms thick with pernicious 
dust ; boys, black as sweeps, who had been since early morning in 
suffocating engine-rooms, or hurrying from wharf to barge laden with 
sacks of coal dust ; girls, whose red eyes testified to the pungent 
atmosphere in which they had been toiling since dawn, whose hacking 
coughs bore witness to lungs clogged with the deadly off-scourings of 
their labour ; men, rugged, suffering, gaunt, weary with every con- 
ceivable kind of work, relieving their pent-up feelings in coarse jests 
or blasphemous oaths — down the road they swept, like a turbulent 
ill-conditioned stream, foully begrimed by terrible necessity, yet 
intended by the Creator for cleanliness and purity, a human type of 
the grand old river flowing but a few yards from them, whose pure 
waters had become loathsome by human selfishness and folly. 

Mr. Free has it that a respectable-looking stranger goes in 
danger here of rude stares or even insults. All I can say is that 
I have gone through the island without anyone taking notice 
of me, and with the help of a little sunshine, found its scenery 
not so dismal to an outsider's eye. Who cared to try the adven- 
ture could, at the West India Dock Station, embark on the 
ramshacklest, one-horsest 'bus in London, that carried him as 
far as the Millwall Dock. Thence he must walk by West Ferry 
Road round the edge of the promontory, farther down showing 
opener spaces and not such a warren of population. At the very 
end, where a white church steeple makes a beacon, the island is 
tipped by a pretty garden with a riverside terrace looking 
pleasantly across to Greenwich Hospital. And here, beside the 
Great Eastern Station, rises a dome of green glass decreed by 
the County Council, whose genii carry one gratis in a magical 
box down to the level of what might once have passed for a fairy 
grot, which leads, dry and bright, beneath the muddy river. 
This subway, in plain prose, is only for foot passengers. But 
farther down, the Black wall Tunnel makes an omnibus route by 



which one can return to Westminster or Blackfriars through the 
south-eastern suburbs, a roundabout panorama of London not 
often sought by strangers. 

Besant emphasizes the f orlornness of the East-end by declaring 
that it does not possess a single hotel, albeit many drinking- 
houses vainly so called. But this hard-working region was not 
always so much obscured from the regard of pleasure-seekers. 
A large building at Blackwall Pier, turned into a Convalescent 
Home, was once an hostelry almost as noted for fish dinners as 
the " Ship " at Greenwich, as were others farther down the river. 
Fish dinners seem to have gone out of fashion, with the minis- 
terial banquet in that sort, which was originally held at Dagenham 
Breach, below Barking, where Nature began a dock on her own 
account that is now to be completed by man. Nearly all the way 
down to Barking Creek extends the line of the Victoria and Albert 
Docks, cut off from Blackwall by Bow Creek, the befouled mouth 
of the Lea. 

To the Docks themselves, there is no free admission except 
on business ; and a curious drone seems out of place among the 
bees that bustle here. I shall never forget my first visit to them, 
and how I saw literally nothing. Having occasion to seek out 
a Japanese steamer lying in the Victoria and Albert Docks, I 
started from Fenchurch Street, on a fine afternoon, which soon 
turned to thick fog, dislocating all the traffic ; then the journey 
was a series of adventures, doubtful changes in Cimmerian 
darkness, constant stoppages amid appalling whistlings, shoutings, 
and detonations, till I was turned out on a perilous solitude 
where I had to stumble and grope my way to the quay, at the 
risk of tripping into yawning chasms at every blind step. On 
turning back after a few minutes stay, I found the dock station 
had meanwhile been shut up, and the discovery of another was 
anxious work. If I penetrated into Silvertown or Canning 
Town, their squalid meanness was kindly veiled in fog ; and in 
those days they had no tram-line of escape. In all, the journey 
to and fro took six hours, during which I never knew where 
I was, nor when I should come safe to any familiar landmark ; 
I had nothing to eat, nothing to smoke, nothing to read, and 


nothing to see except walls of fog : surely no anchorite could 
find a better chance for penitential meditation, not even in the 
ancient Hermitage that has left its name on Wapping Wall. 

The Docks have often been described, with or without 
statistics, seldom without complacent reflection on our com- 
mercial greatness. The liveliest account I know is in G. A. Sala's 
Twice Round the Clock, than which there is no more readable 
book about London. 

What huge reservoirs are they of wealth, and energy, and industry ! 
See those bonding warehouses, apoplectic with the produce of three 
worlds, congested with bales of tobacco and barrels of spices ; with 
serons of cochineal, and dusky, vapid-smelling chests of opium from 
Turkey or India ; with casks of palm-oil, and packages of vile chemicals, 
ill-smelling oxides and alkalis, dug from the bowels of mountains 
thousands of miles away, and which, ere long, will be transformed 
into glowing pigments and exquisite perfumes ; with shapeless masses 
of indiarubber, looking inconceivably dirty and nasty ; . . . with bags 
of rice and pepper ; with ingots of chocolate and nuggets and nibs of 
cocoa, and sacks of roasted chicory. The great hide warehouses, 
where are packed the skins of South American cattle, of which the 
horns, being left on the hides, distil anything but pleasant odours, 
and which lie, prone to each other, thirsting for the tan-pit. See the 
sugar warehouses, dripping, perspiring, crystallizing with sugar in 
casks and bags and boxes. How many million cups of tea will be 
sweetened with these cases when the sugar is refined ! how many 
tomesful of gossiping scandal will be talked to the relish of those 
saccharine dainties ! what stores of barley-sugar temples and Chantilly 
baskets for the rich, of brandy-balls and hardbake for the poor, will 
come from those coarse canvas bags, those stained and sticky casks ! 
And the huge tea warehouses, where the other element of scandal, the 
flowery Pekoe or the family Souchong, slumbers in tinf oiled chests. 
And the coffee warehouses, redolent of bags of Mocha and Mountain, 
Texan and Barbadian berries. And the multitudinous, almost un- 
cataloguable, mass of other produce : shellac, sulphur, gum-benzoin, 
ardebs of beans and pulse from Egypt, yokes of copper from Asia 
Minor ; sponge, gum-arabic, silk and muslin from Smyrna ; flour from 
the United States ; hides, hams, hemp, rags, and especially tallow in 
teeming casks, from Russia and the Baltic provinces ; mountains of 
timber from Canada and Sweden ; fruit, Florence oil, tinder, raw cotton 
(though the vast majority of that staple goes to Liverpool), indigo, 
saffron, magnesia, leeches, basket-work, and wash-leather ! The ships 


vomit these on the dock quays, and the warehouses swallow them up 
again like ogres. 

But another writer who has kept his eyes open in London 
smoke and fog, Mr. G. R. Sims, reminds us how there is a seamy 
side to this show of wealth. Early in the morning he has stood 
at the dock-gates to note the crowd of " more or less dilapidated 
and hungry-looking " men, many of whom have tramped miles 
on the chance of getting a job open " to the most helpless and 
most hopeless of the London poor." Here winds and tides make 
themselves felt on land, for it is never certain how many hands 
will be needed to unload the vessels brought into dock ; and too 
often half the eager throng must turn away cursing or bemoaning 
their luck, or hang about for hours, hoping against hope, that a 
late-arriving vessel may still bring them half a day's bread. It 
is the irregularity of this employment that makes one of the 
hardest problems of the labour market in East-end London, 
a problem with which the new Port authority now strives to 
wrestle, let us hope, not in vain. 

From the river-side, we turn back to the inland highways of 
the East-end. At Limehouse, whose church tower rises like a 
lighthouse above masts and funnels, the Commercial Road forks 
as the West India Dock and the East India Dock Roads, the 
latter continued by the Barking Road over the winding mouth of 
the Lea and the flats of Plaistow. In these thoroughfares, the 
Docks make themselves surmised rather than seen by such 
institutions as Sailors' Homes, among them one for the Lascars 
and other Orientals who are familiar figures hereabouts ; and 
hidden away in Limehouse one might find a small street of Chinese, 
where the police have their eye on an opium-smoking den, that 
neighbours a joss-house. All over the Dock-quarter children 
hardly turn to stare after these exotic mariners. On the opposite 
side of the river, I see that a music-hall finds it worth while 
displaying its bills in Norse, near the docks of the Baltic timber 
trade ; and no doubt anyone at home in this region could tell 
me where to look for " Dagos " or " Dutchmen." 

Limehouse imperceptibly merges into Poplar, whence one 
can turn up to Bow Bridge by the Brunswick Road, or from 


Limehouse Church by the tram-line of Burdett Road, cutting 
across the continuation of Whitechapel. Farther back, the 
diverging highways have a shorter connection by White Horse 
Street to Stepney Church, and on by the curve of Stepney Green, 
that is, or was, the Pall Mall of the East, its long green enclosed 
as a garden, and its once dignified Georgian fronts more and more 
broken up by new " buildings," though still two or three wooden 
houses hold out against improvement. The spire of a spick- 
and-span Dissenting tabernacle makes a beacon to the tower of 
Stepney's Church of St. Dunstan, solid and stately in spite of 
its damage by fire a few years ago, standing in a great church- 
yard, most of which, as is the rule hereabouts, has been turned 
into a public garden. Those eastern thoroughfares, indeed, are 
often broken by gardens, chapels, churches, and other public 
buildings, and there is nothing depressing about their aspect ; 
then, if we turn into the side streets, the prevalence of two-storied 
houses invites light and air to gild the monotony of mean brick 
architecture. In the inner and more crowded zone, to be sure, 
new buildings tend to the form of towering barracks that throw 
a deeper shade over the bristling rank and file of chimney-pots. 

By Stepney Green, we come back to the Whitechapel Road, 
opposite the great brewery that figures in Besant's novel. This 
liveliest line of traffic, now taking the style of Mile End Road, 
leads us past the People's Palace into Bow, and across a water- 
way hardly to be recognized here as the same Regent's Canal, 
on which at Paddington Browning saw a touch of Venice. The 
next point of note is the ambitious architecture of the Bow and 
Bromley Institute at Bow Station, then by the island of Bow 
Church, the tram brings us to Bow Bridge, the arch originally 
built by Henry I.'s queen, as perhaps the first stone bridge in 
England. Here the road spans a channel of the branching and 
barge-laden Lea, that bounds the County of London. 

But here we enter a new province of the East -end, which is 
London in all but legal status, the Essex boroughs of West Ham 
and East Ham, fringing off northward into the half -rural scenes 
of Walthamstow, Leyton, and Wanstead, southward into Canning 
Town, and other by-names covering what was once a Thames- 


side marsh, where now the hills are gas-holders and the waters are 
docks. Into this corner is packed half the population of Essex, 
some half -million of people. By far the largest town in the 
county is West Ham, a municipal alias masking Stratford-at- 
Bow, once famed for a cloister of nuns, among whom French 
was spoken " full fair and fetishly," and by a monastery whose 
name is still remembered in the Abbey Mills on the Lea flats. 
As West Ham is the largest Poor Law union, so its neighbour 
borough, East Ham, has lately attained the distinction of being 
the most heavily rated in England, a fact that by driving away 
industries makes it only the more poverty-stricken. When through 
it we pass on from the Lea to the Roding Valley, there appear 
shrinking strips of open flat ; then is reached Barking, which by 
trains and trams will soon be woven on to this end of London. 
Here let us turn back, though still beyond we might find fringes 
of the metropolitan area, as is shown in my book on Essex. On 
the highway into Essex, that was once a straight Roman road, 
trams and 'buses run through Ilford, a suburb of fifty thousand 
Londoners, and for seven or eight miles from Aldgate we should 
hardly ever get free from a hedge of houses. 

All this stretch of homes and workshops for more than a 
million people, make up the East-end quarter so little known to 
London's other millions. It has, indeed, not much amenity to 
attract strangers. Abject poverty and repulsive vice are by 
no means its striking features, unless in some forlorn slums ; 
and there are worse rookeries hidden away in prouder parts 
of the capital. The general characteristic is rather a dull level 
of fortune, that throws into relief any accidental variety on the 
commonplace. And the East-end is not without oases. There 
are parts of it where I, for one, would rather live than in the 
monotonous quasi-gentility of certain western purlieus. I have 
lived at Bethnal Green, and that was no such penitential experi- 
ence. I had comfortable rooms in a broad and quiet street 
leading to the gates of a spacious park, well laid out with wood 
and water, among much -trodden stretches of lively playground. 
J. R. Green, who had lodged in the same street some years earlier, 
goes so far as to call Victoria Park the prettiest in London. 



I w 





I had an excellent museum and picture-gallery close at hand, 
and a choice of highly respectable churches, well attended, and 
often served by noted divines, besides a large selection of chapels. 
I could soon pass on into a string of suburbs that had not alto- 
gether lost their suburban airiness, when trams and motor- 'buses 
did not hurry one away towards more approved quarters. Often 
I walked home from Charing Cross in the small hours of a summer 
morning, passing through the streets of the City, silent but for 
the tread of a policeman, when " all that mighty heart was lying 
still." Such an experience alone seemed worth living at Bethnal 
Green for ; and, indeed, one might find worse places, as well as 
better, to live at. 

Poor as the East-end is in lions and monuments, it has spots 
worth seeking out by lovers of the past. There is its mother 
church of St. Dunstan on Stepney Green, already spoken of, 
neighboured by good Queen Anne or Georgian mansions, 
vanishing away now that " warm " citizens have moved farther 
afield. Another old church restored is Bow's, standing out in 
the middle of the main road with a statue of Gladstone as its 
patron saint. If we take in the ultra-Lea district, the parish 
church of West Ham could put forward a fair claim to be made 
cathedral of the new Essex diocese ; and East Ham's ancient 
village church comes as a surprise among depressing signs of 
modern industrialism. There are several fine new churches, 
like St. Philip's or St. Jude's, that have done much to lighten 
the dark places of half -heathen wilds. There are green nooks like 
the Brewers' Garden, now enclosed by the London Hospital, as a 
garden for its hard worked nurses. There are picturesque havens 
for quiet old age, such as the Trinity Almshouses in the Mile 
End Road, making a contrast with more pretentious Town Halls, 
Museums and other public buildings, that, with palatial institu- 
tions planted out in the country, seem monuments to the despair 
of ratepayers hardly able to keep their own heads above pauper- 
ism. The Poplar Recreation Ground is a memorial of the East 
India Company's Almshouses, whose chapel still remains. In 
what once may have been fitly called Green Street, the boundary 
between West and East Ham, there is a Tudor mansion that 



claims Anne Boleyn's name as scene of one of Henry VIII. 's 
honeymoons. At Barking another noble mansion pretends to 
connection with the Gunpowder plot ; and here, beside the fine 
old church, stands a fragment of what was once among the 
greatest abbeys of England. Here and there, hidden away 
among its straight lines of dingy brick, the East -end still keeps 
quaint nooks and spots of faded dignity such as Besant lovingly 
explored for us ; where the amphibious edges of the river often 
show how the muddiest water can wash away man's aesthetic 
offences. But too commonly this mass of undistinguished 
inhabitation bears out Mrs. Humphry Ward's description : 
" Long lines of low houses, two storys always, or two storys 
and a basement, all of the same yellowish brick, all begrimed 
by the same smoke, every door-knocker of the same pattern, 
every window blind hung in the same way, and the same corner 
* public ' on either side, flaming in the hazy distance." 

And in such an uncomely city of industry, built by the Philis- 
tines for the sons of Gibeon, one has to grow familiar with sights, 
smells, and noises, making it a doleful Malebolge to all whose 
nerves and sensibilities have not been blunted by use. Too 
clearly the masses here are divided from the classes, which is 
both cause and effect of East-end poverty. There was a time 
when merchants and masters, as well as " hands," were content 
to live in spacious mansions now degraded and decayed into 
crowded tenements. Those well-to-do folk spent money, went 
to church, set an example of decent life, and kept some sweetness 
and light open in a region that still showed patches of suburban 
amenity. What are now the Essex boroughs of East London 
were once much affected by well-to-do and well-doing Quakers, 
like Mrs. Elizabeth Fry, whose brother, Samuel Gurney, if a 
drab ghost were thinkable, might now see his grounds kept up as 
the public park of West Ham. Much further back Dean Colet 
had land at Stepney that helps to support his school of St. Paul's. 

But when the better class inhabitants found themselves dis- 
turbed by the din of works they had established, elbowed closely 
by the multitudes to whom they gave employment, neighboured, 
too, by swarms of river -side thieves and harlots, they withdrew 


to more tranquil homes, leaving their gardens to be built over by 
mean streets. In the last century this favourless end of the 
town was seized as a site for new industries developed by scientific 
progress, some of them neither wholesome nor savoury. Round 
the ugly and noisy factories, as fast as houses could be run up by 
the jerry-builder, they were filled and over-filled with a shifting 
population, most of whom are wholly given up to the struggle 
for daily bread, in an atmosphere of moral grime and fog. So 
came about such a " dead level of labour " as Edward Denison 
found here, with " no one to give a push to struggling energy, 
to guide aspiring intelligence, or to break the fall of unavoidable 

What is so bad in it is not what " jumps at the eyes," as the French 
say. No ; this summer there is not so very much actual suffering for 
want of food, nor from sickness. What is so bad is the habitual 
condition of this mass of humanity — its uniform mean level, the absence 
of anything more civilizing than a grinding organ to raise the ideas 
beyond the daily bread and beer, the utter want of education, the 
complete indifference of religion, with the fruits of all this — viz., 
improvidence, dirt, and their secondaries, crime and disease. The 
people create their destitution and their disease. Probably there are 
hardly any of the most needy who, if they had been only moderately 
frugal and provident, could not have placed themselves in a position 
to tide over the occasional months of want of work or of sickness, 
which there always must be. And this occasional pressure is what 
works the ruin. The breadwinner falls sick, or is out of work, for a 
few months ; the home is broken up, the hospital or the workhouse 
swallows up the family, the thread of life is broken — perhaps they have 
been removed to a distance from former employers — at any rate, life 
has to be begun again right from the bottom. Is it wonderful that 
drink and crime levy a large conscription on these wretches, while the 
remnant subside into dirt and despondency ? 

Yet, as the gloomy silence of tropical forests resolves itself, to 
a watchful ear, into myriad sounds of obscure life, so this seem- 
ing dead level, below the weakest microscope, will be found pitted 
and scored and mole-heaped with the blind workings of human 
nature. No question need be made of equality by anyone who 
has the least knowledge of the East -end. The masses have their 
classes, here but more puzzlingly overlapping and shading into 


each other than those marked out in less blurred pattern on a 
larger scale map of society. Pride, contempt, and ambition 
spring as naturally at the East-end as at the West, dwarfed 
only by want of room and light. To have a Sunday suit kept 
out of pawn, is in Poplar such credit as to owe a tailor's 
bill in Savile Row. To keep a small maid-servant, in Canning 
Town seems a title of bloated aristocracy. What it is to live in 
Mayfair or Kensington, it is at this end of town to have a house 
to oneself, in which one's children may be brought up with at 
least a thin brick wall shutting out the foul speech and drunken 
brawls of neighbours. Even a single private room seems a luxury 
where the poor pay higher in proportion for all their necessities, 
and rents especially are driven up by the pressure of numbers. 
Stepney Green is a Grosvenor Square compared with the slums 
of St. George 's-in-the-East. The end of a court nearer the street 
and the policeman's beat is a shade more respectable than the 
darker corners within. Biscuit-girls look down on match-girls ; 
feathered plush hats are cocked at plain straw. The skilled 
artisan holds his head above the mere hodman. The trades 
unionist is as selfish as the bloated capitalist he denounces, and 
shortsightedly exploits the helplessness of others if thereby he 
can raise his own wages. The sweated worker hopes one day to 
become a sweater in turn. The East-end has its petty usurers, 
levying on their spendthrift neighbours a rate of interest dictated 
by bad security. Bribery and blackmailing thrive in Millwall 
factories as in City offices. Even the glib-tongued Socialist is 
found to grab more than his fair share of what is going, when he 
gets the chance. Socialism, unless in the shapeless British form 
of class jealousy or rankling discontent, makes little way in the 
East -end, where the foreign anarchist is better known than 
trusted. It has its own luxuries and dissipations, fried fish and 
tinned lobster instead of mayonnaise and turtle, public-houses 
for clubs, music-halls to take the place of concerts ; pitch and toss 
and small betting for the gambling of the Stock Exchange or the 
Bridge club ; and so long as it gets almost enough to eat and 
more than enough to drink, it is not forward to envy the West- 
end, that provides it with models for distant imitation. 


There is as much snobbism here as in other parts of the town, 
if our definition of snobbism be " a mean admiration of mean 
things." One of the great scandals of the East-end is the ruinous 
funerals by which poor folk think to honour the dead, and to 
attest their grief by the display of a little shabby pomp. Funerals 
and fights are the frequent spectacles of a crowd that is never 
treated to a royal procession or a Lord Mayor's Show past its 
doors. The girls who get up clubs for the acquisition of hats or 
boots, are as critical of finery, after their sort, as is any Hyde 
Park parade. I have heard the question debated among chari- 
table ladies, whether when visiting among the poor they should 
disguise themselves in modest weeds, or show some touch of 
splendour, at least of elegance, to be taken as a compliment by 
clients whose taste certainly needs elevating. There can be no 
doubt that the uniform of nurse or nun has advantages as a pass- 
port in rough corners where a policeman may not always lightly 
trust himself. But the East-ender, as a rule, seems to appreciate 
a little illustration of West -end modes, which in the eyes of women 
endues their visitors with special interest. The millinery of 
work-girls is only cheaper and gaudier than the creations of Dover 
Street. The blocks on which it is displayed, indeed, are inferior 
to those generations of tall girls reared among squares and gardens, 
deserted half of the year for parks, moors, or sands. But even 
where woman remains bowed down by more than her share of 
life's burdens, it is touching to see how she hungers after some 
poor distinction, and holds up her head when conscious of a 
feather in her hat. It is notable that in our time the good old 
word woman has come into fashion at the West-end, while lady, 
" soiled with all ignoble use," is eagerly usurped by the lower 
class, till it bids fair to descend to the status of the Italian donna. 
Some thirty years ago I took part in a stormy public meeting, 
where one speaker mentioned a certain popular heroine as a 
woman, meaning thereby no disrespect ; but the working-men 
who chiefly formed his audience, understood it as an insult, and 
raised an angry clamour, " Laidy ! Laidy /" The chairman, the 
late Auberon Herbert, in vain tried to quiet this commotion, 
that went on for several minutes, till the indiscreet orator was 


persuaded to withdraw that opprobrious epithet. A clergyman 
of experience in the hardest working quarter asserts that he 
found women generally signing their names with the addition 
of Mrs. or Miss, rudimentary signs of the ambition that else- 
where must be gratified by rarer titles. 

This population has its virtues, good-humour, fortitude, and 
a kindness of the poor to the poorer, often more warm than wise. 
It has its vices in carelessness of to-morrow, in petty gambling, 
in no over-scrupulous regard to meum and tuum, in the drunken- 
ness that breeds every crime. In the East-end, as in the West, 
there are men and women who do not kneel to the local Baals, 
godly folk who remember the chief end of man ; thoughtful 
people who try to cultivate their minds under difficulties ; careful 
parents who struggle to bring up their children in decency and 
order ; in short, all sorts and conditions of men, as depicted by 
Besant. But the crying want of the East is such discipline of 
mind and feelings as comes from the associations of respecta- 
bility, or even the calculations of the West -end marriage-market. 
Lads and lasses grow to unlicked independence in their teens ; 
then their thoughts turn too lightly to pairing for life. Girls 
catch at the first " bloke " or " chap " that tickles their vanity ; 
boys jump into wedlock as a holiday adventure ; nor is legal 
wedlock always a firmer bond than irregular unions. The natural 
issue of such reckless coupling is apt to be a litter of puny, rickety, 
unwashed children, to be dragged up on precarious earnings, 
often in conditions as poisonous to moral as to physical health. 
The East breeds faster than the West, its offspring less fit to 
survive, yet surviving in such proportion as to make a burden 
on the national prosperity and a problem for wrangling schools 
of economists. The divers remedies of theoretic Socialism 
appear not practical where, if the wealth of the Rothschilds 
were divided to-day, by to-morrow much of it would have gone 
to set up the public-houses as palaces of a new race of millionaires, 
dealers in the anaesthetic that deadens both joy and suffering. 
The disease of the East -end is but a confluent form of one too 
prevalent among our working class — lack of prudence, thrift, 
temperance, and public spirit. 


Where liberty does not prove wholly a blessing, and equality 
is an idle dream, fraternity comes forward to bind up the wounds 
of fortune. Not always beneficial — often mischievous rather 
according to some authorities — are the charitable funds devoted 
to the cheering of the East-end. Worse than useless are the 
spasmodic doles, each report of which draws fresh claimants to 
swell the crush of poverty and shiftlessness. Mere vanity seem 
the fits of slumming curiosity that now and then provide West- 
enders with a Lenten exercise. But there are at work here more 
patient missionaries of a brighter life ; in our own time a whole 
army of devoted men and women have leaped into the gulf that 
still yawns so darkly between East and West. 

The leader of this army's forlorn hope was Edward Denison, 
son of a Bishop, nephew of a Speaker, himself a Member of 
Parliament, who threw his life into the East-end, there to learn 
his doctrine that the Good Samaritan is better equipped with 
thought and careful sympathy than with loose twopences. The 
strain proved so exhausting that, after a short career, he had to 
take a voyage to Australia, and there died at the age of thirty. 
His monument is Denison House, the headquarters of the Charity 
Organization Society, and of other societies with kindred aims. 

The flag was snatched from his hands by Arnold Toynbee, 
a young Balliol tutor who also cast his energies into the sordid 
welter of Whitechapel. He also died young, broken down by 
overwork. But he was followed by a band of comrades from 
Oxford, who, in memory of him, gave the name Toynbee Hall 
to the first of those University Settlements that now vie with 
each other in shedding light upon the darkness of the East-end. 
This institution grew up under the wing of Canon Barnett, the 
Vicar of St. Jude's, whose long life of activity at its honoured 
end he was able to repose in brighter scenes. G. F. Watts, R.A., 
decorated his church, inside and outside, with visible signs of 
cultured life; and the Vicar started in his schoolroom loan 
exhibitions of art, since developed into the Whitechapel Art 
Gallery. To show the variety of means here brought to bear for 
lighting up a too colourless life, it may be mentioned how one of 
the recent exhibitions took the form of living pictures, a pageant 


of scenes from the history of London, entirely acted by children 
of the Stepney schools. 

Toynbee Hall, inspired by an enthusiasm of humanity rather 
than of churchmanity, was held in some suspicion among stricter 
dogmatists, so before long it had a rival in Oxford House, that 
raised the Cross and the Anglican creed as standards for demo- 
cratic and philanthropic effort, on a field where the ritualistic 
wing of the Church had first been boldly militant. Since then, 
several such Settlements have sprung up, not only in the East-end, 
but in other mean quarters of London, outposts of culture garri- 
soned by educated men and women, against whose work the main 
reproach made is that they do not so easily get into touch with those 
most in need of their precepts and example. Salvationists and other 
fanatics come to closer quarters with the devils that have to be 
cast out ; and if the last state of unclean spirits exorcised by the 
tom-tom proves not always better than the first, Besant, for 
one, himself no devotee of " corybantic Christianity," nor of any 
school of enthusiasm, speaks almost enthusiastically of the rescue 
work done by the Salvation Army among " submerged classes." 
This body has been called the Franciscans of our generation : 
let them not forget how the followers of St. Francis, at first 
welcomed as true brothers of the poor, fell, like fatter monks 
and prouder Templars, into hateful contempt. 

It would take pages to draw up a muster roll of all the com- 
panies now fighting in this battle-ground, lay and clerical, regulars 
and irregulars, volunteers and mercenaries. There are the 
officials of the C.O.S. patient and considerate in methods that 
do not always recommend themselves to eager-hearted philan- 
thropists. There are inspectors from various departments of 
Government. There are innumerable almoners, district- visitors, 
Scripture readers, and the like, recruited from all sects of belief 
and ritual. There are seekers of the fallen, and helping hands 
held out to those who care to rise ; open-air preachings, and free- 
and-easy discourses under cover ; " pleasant Sunday afternoons," 
and other forms of spiced edification ; temples of Belial turned into 
mission-halls ; " Welcomes Home " for the sailor, who once found 
but false friends ; " Bridges of Hope " for the shameful outcasts 


who else might have no refuge but a fatal Bridge of Sighs ; 
homes for the youngsters whose lot is often worse than orphan- 
hood. There are nuns, nurses, sisters, " blue " ladies, " grey " 
ladies, and drab ladies. One knows of very fine ladies who spend 
a double life, now in the play of the West-end, then in hard work 
at the East -end ; and not all of these are mere amateurs hunting 
after a new sensation. Nothing has impressed me more here 
than the tact, self-restraint, and good-humour shown by public - 
school lads playing the comrade in clubs of such " louts " and 
" nippers " as gilded youth is too apt to despise. Ladies, too, 
undertake to foster those boys' clubs, in which budding hooligans 
may work off their brutality with boxing-gloves and the like 
well-padded plays of violence. But ladies seem in better place 
as managing clubs for girls, who have a chance thus to learn more 
than by observant note of dress and manners approved in higher 
circles. Such workers organize outings from the smoke and grime 
of everyday life, trips for the children, drives for the old folk, 
seaside camps for the lads, welcome supplements to Easter 
Monday roisterings, and to the hop-picking that makes a profit- 
able and healthful holiday for many East-enders. Then, of 
course, there are the school-teachers, steadily at their work of 
civilization, of which perhaps they can take the most hopeful 
view. All accounts agree that the last generation of East-enders 
have been taught many lessons, better than those droned out 
of text-books, from the schools to which they must go, and 
from the Polytechnics, and other educational institutions to 
which they may go if they care to be more than fuel for industrial 

I do not forget the clergy who captain this crusade against 
ignorance, vice, and poverty. It is their business, and, like 
the school-teachers, they are paid for it. But what pay tempts 
a young curate to cloister himself in an East -end clergy house ; 
and how will rector or vicar grow fat in a jerry-built parsonage, 
where his worst hardship is not to be able to prevent or relieve 
the crying misery at his doors ? Now that this misery comes 
more into public notice, a few divines have been able to win 
promotion by their exploits in such a stricken field ; but most 



of the East-end clergy spend their best years in rolling a stone 
of Sisyphus that often crushes them before they can gain rest 
from labours, for which the " wages of going on " are their richest 
reward. Their means seldom allow them such chances of recrea- 
tion and refreshment as fall to the lot of luckier volunteers, 
who for the health of body and soul find it well to rise into 
purer air more or less often, like whales coming up to spout. 
When Edward Denison lived in the East-end, he tells us how a 
walk along Piccadilly proved " a most exhilarating and delight- 
ful treat." But such treats are rare with athletic young divines 
whose chief amusement must be sharing and superintending the 
games of lads for whose souls they play with the devil. 

I have all sympathy with those brothers and sisters of the 
East-end, frocked or unfrocked, having dabbled in their depriva- 
tions myself, not with any steadiness of purpose or sustaining 
zeal. More than forty years ago, before I knew the way to 
Bethnal Green or Katcliff Highway, before novelists had wakened 
our interest in mean streets, I took what then seemed the romantic 
whim of living among social inferiors, and trying to familiarize 
myself with their life. That, like other experiments of mine 
in the same direction, turned out a fiasco, owing to moral and 
physical deficiencies on which I need not enlarge. One must 
be something of a saint or a philosopher to keep up one's heart 
in such adventures ; or at least one must go in some kind of official 
harness, and pull at the wheel of Ixion in a team. The depressing 
surroundings of poverty tell more on a hermit than on a monk. 
Alas ! I have seen cases where a man has cut himself off from 
the society of his equals with the best intentions that but 
paved the way to his own downfall. All the more I can admire, 
even envy, those who have health of soul and body to spend on 
this service, sowing seed in small hope to gather fruit or flowers 
with their own hands. 


While Westminster distinguishes itself as a City, Southwark 
bears for title the Borough, as oldest of all the swarms sent out 
from the London hive. Nay, according to one theory, of which the 
late W. J. Loftie was advocate, or at least suggester, Southwark 
might claim higher dignity as the original London, if the bulk of 
the Roman buildings were first set up there, with a fortress on the 
north side as tete de font. The chief argument for this is Ptolemy's 
putting Londinium in Kent. But Ptolemy and Pausanias were 
the fathers of guide-books, and I have some reason for knowing 
how liable that class of writers are to err. Anyhow, these pages 
keep clear of controversial matter, so, with a respectful reference 
to Mr. Loftie's own scholarly writings, I will take leave to stick 
to the commonly received view of Southwark's origin. 

This is that when a town sprang up on the northern gravel 
bank of the Thames, the south side was an almost uninhabitable 
marsh, broken by ponds, ditches, and channels, mostly over- 
flowed by the tide as far as the low, heathy heights now known 
by such names as Denmark Hill, Brixton Rise, and Lavender 
Hill, below which Lambeth Marsh and Brook Street tell as plain 
a tale of their past, while Bermondsey and Battersea suggest 
islets on the amphibious shore. The first inhabitants of this 
shore would be fisher -folk or prowling outlaws, who might pre} 
upon the traffic passing from the ford at Thorney Island. Some 
sort of road there must have been across the marsh, even before 
the Romans raised and paved a way on from the bridge they 
built over the Thames. Hint of their construction survives in 
the name Newington Causeway ; and it is believed that Roman 
roads might come to light below the foundations of Surrey suburbs, 



which have yielded bits of antiquity enough to bear out that 
theory of a Roman city on the south side. 

If London stood on the north bank, the other end of the 
bridge had to be guarded by some work of defence, about which, 
sooner or later, would grow up such a transpontine suburb as 
appears in so many cities. Seldom can this " Bridge End " 
aspire to equality, as in the case of Buda-Pesth. Rome has its 
Trastevere ; Calcutta its Howrah ; Warsaw its Praga ; Cologne its 
Deutz ; New York looks condescendingly over to New Jersey 
City, but cannot, indeed, belittle its Brooklyn. So London got 
its Surrey side, which it long inclined to treat with good-natured 
hauteur as a poor relation, that has indeed thriven to count 
two-thirds of a county's population in its metropolitan precinct, 
besides urbanized men of Kent. Southwark still owns a certain 
dependent position in its nominal wardship under the City ; 
like Westminster, it has a High Bailiff, who in this case is a City 

The first extra-city borough began meanly enough, outside 
the South-work by which the bridge head was fortified on the 
Surrey side. Its best houses would be along the road that is now 
its High Street, to which we shall come presently. But on each 
side, along and behind the river, and notably westward by 
the early embankment still known as Bankside, there grew up 
nests of doubtful characters taking refuge beyond the reach of 
strict City discipline ; so that this suburb came to bear some 
such reputation as the subura mentioned in passages of Horace 
and Juvenal which schoolboys are allowed to skip. A writer 
for our modest public must follow such example ; and it will be 
enough to say that medieval prodigals were more familiar with 
the Borough than would be the steady citizens who through 
industrious apprenticeship rose to wealth and honour. In the 
Reformation time we find this a scene of popular amusement, 
when amusement was not always innocent. Theatres, banished 
from the City's bounds, were set up here among pleasure gardens 
to which there was much resort by ferries, as well as by London 
Bridge, so that on fine summer evenings Bankside must have 
been like a permanent fair. It is now a narrow, muddy, and 


malodorous wharf, littered by rubbish, overswung by cranes 
hoisting bales from stranded barges to the line of warehouses 
behind, through which run hidden passages like the dismal 
Love Lane walled in beside the City of London Electrical Works, 
and the not less belied Moss Alley. Yet, as Besant points out, 
it is not without a squalid picturesqueness, and has a noble 
view across the river to the dome of St. Paul's, if its usual fre- 
quenters cared to look at anything more inspiring than the plash 
of a rat or the tricks of a mudlark. The prospect must have 
been pleasanter when the Thames was gay with swans, and 
rowing-boats, and state barges like that in which the Lord Mayor 
made his annual procession till not so long ago, or that royal one 
preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum, which is hardly 
sixty years out of the water. 

The name of the " Bear Garden," borne by a Bankside alley, 
recalls how the most popular amusement, when drink would not 
be lacking and tobacco had become obnoxious to King James's 
counterblast, was the baiting of bulls and bears, considered 
sport even for ladies, Queen Elizabeth for one, though they 
might cry and shriek at such " ill-favoured rough things," while 
your Master Slenders would have it believed meat and drink 
to them to see the bear loose. There are many allusions in 
Elizabethan literature to this brutal sport, and to Paris Garden, 
which made its most notorious arena, a resort as popular as the 
Crystal Palace or the Stadium in our generation. Further back 
in the good old times, we hear of boars, too, being baited before 
they became bacon. Then on Bankside flourished cockpits, 
which in other parts of London came to be turned into theatres. 
Such unedifying exhibitions were put down, along with the 
theatres, by the Puritan conscience, according to Macaulay, 
not so much by reason of pain given to the baited beast 
as of sinful pleasure to the spectators. Under Cromwell, seven 
bears belonging to Paris Garden were sentenced to military 
execution. After the Globe was pulled down at the beginning 
of the Civil War, its site seems to have been used for Richard 
Baxter's meeting-house and burial-ground ; and John Bunyan 
also, it is said, preached on Bankside, who in our day might 


take one of the Southwark theatres for openly advertised 

The bears, however, seem to have been restored with Charles II., 
for Mr. Pepys, after not having been there for years, in 1666 
went to " the pit where bears are baited." The attraction on 
other visits of his was prize-fighting, not with fists but swords, 
an exciting duel that once ended in a general scrimmage ; but 
that first time he saw a bull baited, when the way in which it 
tossed the dogs, one of them " into the very boxes," made " good 
sport," though on reflection he voted it " a very rude and nasty 
pleasure." Fencing was long another favourite sport here ; 
and Congreve uses a " Bear garden flourish " as a familiar term 
of swordsmanship. Again, Pepys appears at an alehouse on 
Bankside as a box from which to view the more thrilling spectacle 
of the Great Fire, till he went home to find it a case of proximus 
ardet, and had to spend the night in packing up his goods and 
burying away his money. The year before he had visited 
" Foxhall," to find no company there, for terror of the Plague. 
This resort Evelyn mentions as new in 1661 ; but not till next 
century did it become famous as Vauxhall Gardens, with its 
enticements of music, pictures, and statues, illuminated walks 
and dark thickets, and fireworks that fizzled out within living 

The " New Spring Gardens " at Foxhall — as Addison still 
spelt it — took their first name from the garden at the corner of 
St. James's Park, and flourished as a novel suburban resort, sup- 
planting the coarse joys of the Bear-pit by prettier sights and 
sounds that were prostituted to pleasures by no means innocent. 
" When I considered the fragrancy of the walks and bowers," 
was Mr. Spectator's experience, " with the choirs of birds that 
sung upon the trees, and the loose tribe of people that walked 
under their shades, I could not but look on the place as a kind 
of Mahometan paradise." The novels of the eighteenth century 
have many scenes to show us what Vauxhall was, that from this 
side long blazed in renown, though eclipsed for a generation by 
the fashion of Ranelagh on the Chelsea bank ; but the older 
lights shone on, as we know, down to the youth of Mr. Pendennis. 


Vauxhall Station is the monument of that popular paradise, 
as Waterloo stands on or about the site of Cuper's, alias Cupid's, 
Gardens, another of several pleasure-grounds spreading along 
the Surrey side when land here was still cheap. The Vauxhall 
Gardens were finally closed in 1859, and about the same time 
ended a remoter rival, the Surrey Gardens at Kennington, when 
steamboats and trains took holiday-makers off to Rosherville, 
as " the place to spend a happy day." Now Rosherville, too, 
seems to be dying, if not dead ; and the place of such attractions 
is more brightly taken by the Exhibitions of the West-end, 
when the modern Ranelagh and Hurlingham have become ex- 
clusive clubs. The last Gardens of the old rackety style in London 
were those of Cremorne, where a clumsy imitation of Parisian 
frivolousness has been wholesomely supplanted by athletic 
grounds under the shadow of a once extra - mural cemetery. 
Novels of our time may instruct future generations how " Lord's " 
and the " Oval " draw crowds by honest daylight, no longer 
to the heady glare of Vauxhall and Marylebone Gardens. 

Another scene of popular diversion, the more roistering for 
its shorter term, was Southwark Fair, put down after Hogarth 
had fixed its rough humours in one of his peepshows of London 
life. Some of those old London and suburban fairs continued 
much longer to be a nuisance and a scandal to decent neighbours. 
Bartholomew Fair, as we saw, lingered to the middle of last cen- 
tury. About the same date went Greenwich Fair with its peculiar 
diversion of rolling down hill ; but Charlton Fair was kept up a 
little later. A year or two ago the showfolk at Mitcham were 
making a sulky stand against the prohibition of their time- 
honoured carnival there. Now, I suppose, the last refuge of 
London rascality, in this sort, is Barnet Fair, that, on the first 
Saturday of September, bears the further ill name of being always 
spoiled by rain. 

As for the drama, that did not long keep its headquarters in 
Southwark. There are still theatres on the Surrey side, but 
music-halls rather, to which theatres here tend to transform 
themselves, as the " Astley's " of a past generation has broken 
up into circuses, and " the Vic " of our roistering fathers became 


a show "with a purpose." It appears that music-hall artistes 
affect the Surrey side as residence ; and Stamford Street, near 
Waterloo Station, has made for them such a rendezvous as for 
actors is Maiden Lane, behind the Strand theatres. The " Trans- 
pontine " stage, up to a generation ago, had a reputation for its 
highly-flavoured school of dramatic art that abounded in thrilling 
situations, in stirring sentiments, in heroes and heroines of the 
most stainless virtue, however tried by misfortune, and in deeply- 
dyed criminals to be duly baffled and brought to nought before 
the curtain fell. The problems and nuances of a West -end play 
would have been hissed off by a Surrey audience, strong on 
uncompromising morality and the elementary lines of human 

Can I forget those wicked lords, 

Their vices and their calves ; 
The things they did upon those boards, 

And never did by halves ; 
The peasant, brave though lowly born, 

Who constantly defied 
Those wicked lords with utter scorn, 

Upon the Surrey side ! 

I, too, can remember a " villain at the Vic," beside whom 
Iago or Mephistopheles might appear an amiable character. 
In this piece the hero came to be shut up in a mill, where a corpse 
lay with plastered face exposed in dim light to the audience, 
a gruesome hint of what was like to be his own fate. From such 
a cheerless scene he sought to escape by a ladder, but groped to 
the top only to find himself faced by the ruthless villain, barring 
his escape with a huge horse-pistol. Then, as he gave himself 
up for lost, another door higher up flew open, to disclose the 
heroine, armed with two pistols, to trump that wretch's advan- 
tage — tableau and curtain, before which the villain bowed his 
thanks for a storm of hoots and hisses ! Perhaps some of the 
butchery in Shakespeare's dramas was designed for such an 
audience. We have heard of the actor who, among commen- 
tators disputing what our great dramatist meant in a certain 
point, gave as his own opinion, " He meant to draw'' 




In Shakespeare's day several theatres were built behind 
Bankside, among them the Globe, in which the poet, as yet 
unconscious of his immortality, had the satisfaction to be a share- 
holder as well as an actor. He is believed to have lived on 
Bankside, with Bardolphs and Barnardines as neighbours, perhaps 
boon companions. In 1909 an artistic memorial tablet was placed 
on the south side of Park Street, formerly Maid Lane, to mark 
what has been taken for the site of the Globe ; then, just before 
the ceremony came off, an American investigator, Dr. Wallace, 
rose, like the ghost of Banquo, to declare that it stood elsewhere, 
on the other side of the street, now as little parkish as it seems 
maidenly. Like so many other streets on the once gardened 
riverside, a sunless tunnel through grimy walls, it is reached by 
stairs from the south end of Southwark Bridge, and leads to 
Barclay and Perkins' huge Brewery, grown out of Thrale's, where 
Dr. Johnson, as his executor, played the man of business, pen 
and inkhorn at button-hole, helping to sell the " potentiality of 
growing rich beyond the dreams of avarice." Park Street got 
its name as having been cut through the grounds of a house 
belonging to Lord Desmond, whose own name in eighteenth- 
century street nomenclature had been corrupted to Deadman. 
The Globe also stood near a very old thoroughfare, Stoney Street, 
which from the St. Mary Overies Ferry led into the road from 
London Bridge — its name now taken by the Stoney Street signal 
station at the end of the railway bridge. 

We need not stop to make sure of the exact site of Shakespeare's 
theatre ; but a melodramatic scene, quite after the Surrey-side 
school, may be recalled at this Brewery half a century ago. 
Among other visitors to such a truly British sight came Baron 
Haynau, fresh from the Hungarian revolt which he was believed 
to have put down with ruthless severity ; and British indignation 
had been specially roused by a report of his ordering women to 
be flogged. No sooner had he written his name in the visitors' 
book, than its ill- savour spread like wildfire through the place ; 
then out rushed the sturdy draymen, armed with brooms against 
the " Austrian butcher," who, to his amazement, found himself 
for once received by no means as an honoured guest. Assailed 



by angry cries, pelted with dirt and grains, the victorious General 
was fain to fly with a threatening mob at his heels. He made his 
way to Bankside, and there took refuge in a public-house, whose 
landlady stowed him away in such a fright, that he is said to have 
cut off the moustaches which in 1850 would betray him as a 
foreigner. The mob broke into the house, but, luckily for him, 
missed the room where he was hidden. Several hundreds of 
people had by this time assembled, worked up to such anger, 
that " General Hyaena " might well suppose them to be shouting 
for his blood ; and if he had fallen into their hands, he might 
perhaps have been ducked in the water. But just in time the 
poor tyrant, with his clothes half torn off his back, was rescued 
by a body of police, who from a chorus of execration rowed him 
across the river to sanctuary in Somerset House. He soon cut 
short his visit to England, where, to the Austrian Government's 
high displeasure, nobody was flogged or imprisoned for this 
demonstration, John Bull's verdict on it, as expressed by Punch 
and other papers, being " Served him right !" 

The affair gave rise not only to international complications, 
but to a hitch between our sovereign and her masterful Foreign 
Secretary. To the Austrian complaint, Lord Palmerston took 
on himself to reply in an irritating tone, backed by public opinion, 
but resented by Queen Victoria, who insisted on his first note 
being withdrawn. Still the Court of Vienna cherished such 
high dudgeon, that while it plastered Haynau's bruises with a 
marshalship, it would not send a representative to the Duke of 
Wellington's funeral. Very different was the feeling of Garibaldi, 
who, on his visit to London years afterwards, made a point of 
visiting this Brewery, and desired to congratulate the ring- 
leader in the attack. That person's name, it was explained 
to him, had better be kept in the background ; but he got 
a hint for shaking hands with the man in charge of a certain 
surpassing dray horse. Some of the Italian hero's friends, 
as earnest teetotallers, were not well pleased when he pledged 
the gallant draymen in their own drink, from a mug which 
was broken up on the spot, the fragments being treasured as 


The great Brewery, as beseems, stands near the Hop Exchange, 
and the narrow twisting passages beyond lead us on to a busy 
vegetable market, opposite which we are suddenly aware of one 
of the finest churches in London, half hidden away below the end 
of London Bridge. This is the ancient St. Mary Overies, re- 
christened St. Saviour's, and now adapted as Cathedral for 
the new diocese of Southwark. It was, indeed, a whole group 
of ecclesiastical buildings that once sanctified the taverns and 
stews of Southwark. There stood here a palace of the rich 
Winchester Bishops, whose successor in our time has still a 
castle among his seats. Earlier, a religious house had been 
founded by the pious daughter of a ferryman, and this was 
enhanced as a Priory by two Norman knights, who probably 
had greater sins to atone for. Their foundation seems not to 
have flourished ; but its large Church became an important one 
as a London proxy of Winchester Cathedral. James I. of Scot- 
land was married here to the lady of royal blood, who would 
risk her own life in trying to shield him from his murderers. 
At the Reformation the Priory was given to Sir Anthony Browne, 
who also acquired Battle Abbey and other Church property 
handed down to his descendants, the Lord Montagues having 
this as their London mansion. But on them, as on other 
plunderers of the Church, came a curse, slowly but surely fulfilled. 
Tradition tells how, when Sir Anthony Browne held his house- 
warming at Battle, a monkish skeleton disturbed the feast with 
the prediction that " by fire and water his line should come to 
an end." Sure enough, towards the end of the eighteenth 
century, the last Lord Montague, ignorant how his Sussex seat 
of Cowdray was burned about the same time, perished in a mad 
attempt to shoot the Falls of Schaffhausen, though the magis- 
trates had forbidden the freak, through which he has ever since 
figured to foreigners as type of the eccentric Englishman. 
He left a sister, whose two sons were also drowned while 
bathing, so the monk had spoken truly, if it be true that he so 

The Church of St. Mary of the Ferry became a parish church, 
that suffered sorely from Protestant vandalism. The nave was 


hideously rebuilt, only in our time to be restored after the ancient 
model. The beautiful Lady Chapel had a narrow escape of being 
destroyed to make way for modern London Bridge. Now, thanks 
to awakened reverence, the old Church bears its new Cathedral- 
ship with a mien not unworthy of the monuments it has saved. 
There is one of Gower, in the nave, who was a benefactor of this 
Church. A more ancient effigy of a crusader is believed to 
represent one of the pious founders. There are others, of various 
dates, among them a tablet to Abraham Newland, who was for 
a quarter of a century our most popular writer as signing the 
notes of the Bank of England. A remarkable feature is the 
series of modern windows in the nave commemorating famous 
names, Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Massinger, Bunyan, 
Cruden of the Concordance, Johnson ; and Oliver Goldsmith 
is to come. The latest presented is one to John Harvard, 
as befits a Church so much visited by Americans ; he lived in 
Southwark before he crossed the ocean, to found the first New 
England University. The windows in the Lady Chapel are of 
more ecclesiastical character, dedicated to Thomas a Becket, 
and to the Protestant martyrs, for whom Gardiner's court here 
made an ante-room to their fiery ordeal that branded the hatred 
of Rome deep into London's heart. 

But the peculiar note of St. Saviour's seems its connection 
with the theatrical neighbours, whose parish church it was, not 
always neglected by them. The dramatists Fletcher and Massin- 
ger were buried here, as was Shakespeare's younger brother 
Edmund, with his associates in the Globe, Henslow and Burbage ; 
and another actor-manager of the time, Alleyn, is honoured by 
one of the memorial windows. Edward Alleyn, like his fellow- 
player from Stratford, became a man of substance, for he bought 
the manor of Dulwich, and there founded his College, that has 
grown to be an important educational institution, while a 
bequest of valuable pictures turned the old building into 
a notable Gallery. What seems a pious fiction represented 
these benefactions as wrung from his conscience by an ap- 
pearance of the devil to Alleyn when he was acting a diabolic 
part — 


It's like those eerie stories nurses tell, 

Of how some actor played death on a stage, 

With pasteboard crown, sham orb and tinselled dart, 

And called himself the monarch of the world ; 

Then, going in the tire-room afterward, 

Because the play was done, to shift himself, 

Got touched upon the sleeve familiarly, 

The moment he had shut the closet door, 

By Death himself. 

It is clear that some of those Thespians so far lived down the 
taint of the dyer's hand, as to pass for respectable citizens, not 
godless losels nor outcasts from the services of the Church, like 
Moliere and Adrienne Lecouvreur in France. Alleyn might 
well grow rich, for he was not only part or whole proprietor of 
several theatres, but " bear-master " to James I., and at one 
time the keeper of Paris Garden, occupations that did not bar 
him from being on the parish vestry, and more than once chosen 
as churchwarden. A less worthy memory is preserved in the 
transept by a queer monument to a quack of Charles II. 's time, 
who made money out of such a nostrum as still fattens knaves at 
the expense of fools. 

Honest medicine, too, has a right to be represented in the 
Cathedral. In the streets beside it, one is like to come upon 
tweed-suited and bare-headed young men, who have not the 
air of an ecclesiastical vocation ; and if they turn up St. Thomas's 
Street one may make sure of them as students of Guy's Hospital, 
successors of that " Sawbones " who had his lodgings in Lant 
Street, Borough. Guy's Hospital, behind the great London 
Bridge block of stations, was founded in the eighteenth century 
by an old oddity of that name, who, partly by selling Bibles and 
partly by speculating in South Sea Stock, made a fortune which 
he hugged penuriously, to turn it in the end to such good use. 
Though thus of no venerable age, Guy's has given many famous 
names to medicine ; and it is understood its students in the 
present generation are not typically represented by Mr. Bob 
Sawyer and Mr. Ben Allen. 

Close to Guy's stood the more ancient hospital of St. Thomas, 
one of monastic foundation. St. Thomas the Martyr was a 


patron saint of this quarter, whose old chapel, opposite Guy's 
Hospital, now makes the Chapter House of the new diocese ; 
and he had an older shrine on London Bridge, when it was edged 
with shops and houses, and often crossed by pilgrims to Canter- 
bury ; but after the Reformation, Bible reading transferred 
his local honour to St. Thomas the Apostle. This hospital was 
removed about half a century ago, when its site came to be taken 
for London Bridge Station, and after a temporary housing in the 
Surrey Gardens, it arose afresh in Lambeth, opposite the Houses 
of Parliament. One of its physicians remembers this site as 
the boating place of his Christ's Hospital School ; and another 
old Blue tells me how, launching forth hence, a heedless crew 
of boys were wrecked at Blackfriars Bridge, and came on shore 
to be revived and redressed at the " Welsh Trooper," one of the 
now vanished taverns of Bankside. 

Another kind of institution was once sadly common in the 
Borough. When it made a becoming home for great noblemen 
like the Duke of Norfolk, and proud prelates, it also contained 
a knot of prisons — 

Sometimes a place of right, 
Sometimes a place of wrong, 
Sometimes a place of rogues and thieves 
And honest men among. 

There was the Clink on Bankside, where the Winchester Bishops 
kept their heretics for the stake, its black memory still pre- 
served by the name of Clink Street. South of Guy's Hospital 
was the Marshalsea, in which the persecuting Bonner himself 
came to die, and, as tradition tells, had to be buried stealthily 
at night, lest the people should wreak their hatred upon his body. 
Hereabouts also stood the celebrated King's Bench, as well as 
two smaller prisons. The Marshalsea, upon a changed site, 
lasted as a prison for debtors and smugglers to the time when 
Mr. Dorrit was confined here, like Dickens' own father, whose 
son never forgot nor forgave that scene of squalid misery. One 
ran guess how Quilp Street, a dwarfish turn off the modern 
Marshalsea Road, came by its name. For a generation later the 


Marshalsea held out as a tramps' and thieves' lodging ; but in 
our time it was pulled down, and the only mark of it is the 
adjacent churchyard of St. George's, where so many poor prisoners 
lie buried hugger-mugger with Bishop Bonner. Scoundrels as 
well as wretches were once at home about the steeple of this 
Georgian Church, opposite which the rookery called the Mint, 
now made sweet, if not by a workhouse, by the Evelina Hospital, 
had privilege of sanctuary, and held out as an Alsatia into the 
eighteenth century. To this west side of the High Street was 
transferred the King's Bench Prison, not swept away till 1860. 
Farther south, on the east side, was Horsemonger Lane Gaol, 
where Leigh Hunt had to read and write behind bars for calling 
the Prince Regent a corpulent Adonis of fifty, a true libel that 
gave the poet two years' opportunity to note how the felons 
confined here were less to be pitied than the poor debtors. 

A pleasanter kind of lodging, for which Southwark used to be 
noted, was its inns, whose signs at least may still be seen in the 
High Street, but most of them are come down to the flaring 
bars seldom far to seek in London thoroughfares. Mr. Pick- 
wick's chronicler could tell of half a dozen — " Great, rambling, 
queer old places they are, with galleries and passages and stair- 
cases, wide enough and antiquated enough to furnish materials 
for a hundred ghost stories " — which in that day had degenerated 
from being the headquarters of spanking coaches " into little 
more than the abiding and booking -places of country waggons." 
The " Bear," that seems to have been in every sense the first of 
these hostelries when Mr. Pepys was about town, did not live to 
be overshadowed by the Bridge House Hotel across the way. 
The " White Hart," where the eloping Mr. Jingle put up, as did 
Jack Cade in his day, cherishes its renown up a courtyard where 
its fag-end has been appropriately occupied by a Sam Weller 
Club. Near this, the only hostelry that shows its quaint pictur- 
esqueness fairly intact is the " George," facing into another 
enclosure, that keeps up with the times by being turned into a 
railway goods yard, as has happened to several of those old 
stablings. The " Old Tabard," which is plainly new, preserves 
its alias in the name of Talbot Yard. This house, most famous 


of all, came down about a generation ago, when, indeed, it pre- 
sented but a restoration of Chaucer's " Tabard," almost destroyed 
in a conflagration which swept through the Borough ten years 
after the Great Fire of London ; and even before this it seems to 
have been rebuilt. In it, before the last reconstruction, 
used to be exhibited a chamber as that where the pilgrims 
assembled ; but so, too, at Rochester has been shown Mr. Pick- 
wick's room in the " Bull," and at Ipswich the identical green gate 
where Sam Weller met Job Trotter. 

The " Tabard," or " Talbot," had been originally built as a 
hostel for pilgrims, like the " George " that at Glastonbury still 
welcomes devotees of the picturesque. Hence Harry Bailly and 
his company, " eased at the best," set out on their way to Canter- 
bury, soon turning off the High Street by Kent Street, now 
re-christened Tabard Street, as the main Kent road of that day, 
but its traffic has been turned into the roomier channel of Great 
Dover Street ; and its once roadside features are scaled over by 
slums, such as in too many parts of Southwark call for reforma- 
tion into the unpicturesque barrack-buildings that look across 
to those of the East -end. The New Kent Road, on which 
electric tramways are more familiar than ambling palfreys, is 
a modern cut from Westminster Bridge by way of the " Elephant 
and Castle," for which Shakespeare may have meant an advertise- 
ment given gratis to some friendly landlord — 

In the south suburbs, at the Elephant, 
'Tis best to lodge. 

On the Dover Road, we know, " there are milestones," but 
for miles these seem lost under the buildings of a highway that 
is the Holborn, Oxford Street and Regent Street at once of 
this corner of London. Many a Surrey Cockney who never set 
foot in Pall Mall or Piccadilly, counts it as social success to have 
" knocked 'em in the Old Kent Road," long, broad, and busy 
enough to make a chief thoroughfare for a capital, if somewhat 
wanting in dignity and elegance. And the West-end Londoner, 
straying into this region on foot, feels himself lost in a wilderness 
of monotonous streets, among which turn up curious fragments 




of rusticity, with suggestive names like " Willow Walk " and 
" Grange Road." " Thomas a Becket," uncanonized as sign 
of a public-house, seems to mark Chaucer's " watering place of 
St. Thomas," where a brook so named crossed the road a mile or 
two out. For miles farther the old Roman street runs on as 
a thronged tramway, changing its name to the New Cross Road, 
then skirting Deptford, Greenwich, Blackheath, Woolwich 
Common, till on Shooters' Hill it gains the open point of 
vantage from which Don Juan had his first view of London— 

A mighty mass of brick, and smoke, and shipping, 

Dirty and dusky, but as wide as eye 
Could reach, with here and there a sail just skipping 

In sight, then lost amid the forestry 
Of masts ; a wilderness of steeples peeping 

On tiptoe through their sea-coal canopy ; 
A huge, dun cupola, like a foolscap crown 
On a fool's head — and there is London town ! 

But we turn back to mark the growth of Southside London 
along the river. Eastwards from London Bridge, Tooley Street, 
that is by rights St. Olave Street, has been celebrated for those 
three tailors who spoke in the name of " the people of England." 
It takes us past what were once the grazing grounds of Horsley- 
down into the Borough of Bermondsey, whose motto is, or was, 
"nothing like leather." But the tanning that made its staple 
appears to have been somewhat dispersed of late years, and 
intruded on by other strongly flavoured industries ; a smell of 
vinegar is the first to strike one's senses on coming into Bermond- 
sey from the end of Tower Bridge. Farther in, this Borough's 
characteristic smell still makes itself felt, in spite of Free Trade, 
where Tanner Street leads towards the Leather Market, and a 
public-house in Long Lane bears the fitting sign of " Simon the 
Tanner." But names like Abbey Street and Crucifix Lane 
suggest an almost forgotten day of sanctified dignity, when 
Bermondsey was famed for an Abbey founded by the father of 
London's first Mayor. Among its treasures was a Holy Rood, 
fished out of the Thames to become a goal of pilgrimage almost 
at the doors of Londoners, who on the north side had a choice 



of holiday shrines at Willesden and at Muswell Hill. By their 
offerings, as by the draining and embanking of its meadows, 
Bermondsey Abbey grew so rich that it made a retreat, or prison, 
for two offending queens, Katherine, widow of Henry V., whose 
secret marriage with a Welsh gentleman begot the house of Tudor, 
then Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV., raised above her 
station to suffer beyond the common lot. 

About a century ago the last fragments of this Abbey were 
overlaid by the tanneries. Bermondsey Spa, too, has long been 
no more than a name, one of the many mineral waters which, 
often beginning as holy wells, let the glass serve as excuse for a 
good deal of Cockney pleasuring. London was well off for such 
springs of healing repute. At Streatham, where the sulphur 
water is still pumped up in a dairy, at Dulwich, at Norwood, as 
at Sadler's Wells, Hampstead, Acton, and other suburban spots, 
there were spas of popular resort, much frequented by the common 
sort, when their betters went farther afield to Epsom, Tunbridge 
Wells, perhaps to the original Spa in Belgium, as the like of 
them in former days could undertake longer pilgrimages to 
Canterbury, to Walsingham, even to Compostella or other 
" ferae hallows couth in sundry lands." When the miracles of 
Holy Roods were forgotten, and the virtue of holy wells began 
to be taken less devoutly, Bermondsey's Spa flourished for a time 
as keeping green one of those suburban pleasure-grounds which 
succeeded to the bear-gardens of Bankside. This chalybeate 
spring seems, indeed, to have been of modern renown, that lasted 
but for a generation or so in George III.'s reign ; then for our age, 
like Vauxhall, it has christened a railway-station. 

The borough of Bermondsey includes Rotherhithe, the 
" Redriff " where Captain Lemuel Gulliver, after he had vainly 
tried to get practice among the sailors at Wapping, took " a 
good house," at which he found it so hard to settle. Cherry 
Gardens Pier gives us some hint of what Rotherhithe may have 
been then, and the flower-beds of South wark Park show what 
it might still be. But this flat point round which the river 
makes such a bold bend, is flooded by docks, even more widely 
than the opposite Isle of Dogs. These are rimmed in by one long, 



narrow, winding, waterside street, in which the idle stranger 
would do well not to engage himself too far beyond its first reach 
of Dutch-like settings, or he may have to hold on for miles with- 
out seeing a clear line of escape. On the one side high blank 
walls hide the source of noises and smells besetting his way, 
and block out any view of the river, unless where an obscure 
passage opens the way to some tide-washed stair or wharf. On 
the other, where Docks island this causeway, twists a thin line 
of mean houses, now and then opening for short byways with 
such delusive names as Lavender Lane, Cow Lane, and Silver 
Street. The sight of a churchyard comes like an oasis in the 
amphibious desert ; then at last one may make a dash across dock 
bridges into a thoroughfare cheered by the rumbling of trams. 

At the farther end of Rotherhithe's long street, the old name 
Redriff has been preserved or restored. Is it the spirit of the 
time that kills off those curiosities of curtailed pronunciation ? 
My friend Dr. Bradley charges this on a standard of schooling 
which makes its pupils afraid to seem shaky in their spelling. 
I fancy that railway porters also have to do with it. As Cissiter 
and Abergany become on the tongue as well as the pen of the new 
generation, Cirencester and Abergavenny ; as the vernacular 
Sussex accentuation of Ardinglys and Hellingfo/s tends to be 
minced away, so the Londoner gives up his once familiar shib- 
boleths of place-naming. Long ago Bermondsey was content 
to be cut down to Barmsey, as Godalming to something like 
Gorlmin. Now Marybone gets itself more spoken out as Maryle- 
bone, and Bromley and Plaistow hardly know their old selves, 
pronounced according to their look, as is the fate of Pall Mall 
in the mouths of newspaper vendors, and of Lombard Street 
to frequenters who are no longer natives. Gracechurch Street, 
I suppose, is past praying for as " Gracious Street " ; and one 
doubts if all Cockneys would be familiar with St. Mary Axe as 
" Simmery Axe," though St. Mary's Hall, while it still kept its 
name, was always " Skimmery " to conservative Oxford. South- 
well and Southwark are fellows not only in new cathedralship, 
but in restoring of their original names. When I lately asked 
the way to some corner of " Suthark," I was corrected by an 



inhabitant who spoke the borough's name as two rotund syllables ; 
and some Council-schooled youngsters, learning by the eye 
rather than the ear, have a way of drawing out Greenwich as 
if in rebuke of their old-fashioned elders. 

Beyond Rotherhithe, the Evelyn Street of Deptford strangely 
reminds us how here stood once the gardened manor-house of 
John Evelyn, that accomplished diarist in a very different age. 
But I am not going on to Greenwich and Woolwich, which, though 
now boroughs in the County of London, are hardly of it, having 
an independent existence of their own, which should give them 
rank at least as satellites of our nebulous Metropolis. Let us 
turn up the river, where Southwark merges into Lambeth, and 
that into Battersea ; above which comes Wandsworth ; and then 
at last we pass into the rural domain of Barnes to reach Kew 
and Richmond, which are parts of London, yet not in its bound- 
aries. Nor need we linger about " the relics of this town," for 
beyond Southwark nearly all Surrey-side London is of modern 
growth, unless for Lambeth Palace, once neighboured by other 
lordly mansions, as much forgotten as the abode of our kings at 
Kennington, and most of the too many palaces which Canterbury's 
and London's prelates held within a day's journey of their London 
seat. After the towers in which the Archbishop's state now 
finds itself shrunk, the most interesting monument of this river- 
side seems the great railway works at Nine Elms, the original 
terminus of the South- Western line, where royalty had a private 
station for its Sittings to Windsor, when great folk still hesitated 
to travel with the mob of all and sundry. Lord Palmerston 
once missed a Council at Windsor by forgetting how this station 
had lost its office. A huge corner is at present blotted and 
blocked by the maze of enclosed lines and sheds that last came 
to fame when hence the London Volunteers took train, with 
myriads turning out to wish them the honour they won in 
South Africa. 

As all London is buttressed by its railways, so the rise of the 
Surrey side depended on the building of the Thames bridges. 
We have seen how the first borough grew up at the foot of London 
Bridge, that for centuries remained the only one short of 



Kingston, round by which Sir Thomas Wyatt had to march, 
when he failed to carry the City Gate from Southwark and its 
inhabitants begged him to begone before drawing on them the 
cannon of the Tower. At the time of the Civil War a temporary 
bridge of boats had been thrown over the Thames at Putney ; 
but it was not till the middle of the next century that wooden 
bridges were built at Putney, then at Kew, both now rebuilt more 
solidly. The second bridge in London was Westminster, opened 
1750, in a storm of protests from watermen and vested interests 
expecting to suffer from public convenience ; even so, under 
King John, the ferrymen had called out against London Bridge 
as dangerous opposition to their fare of a farthing for foot- 
passengers and a penny for man and horse. Blackfriars came 
soon afterwards, when a party of country-folk attended by 
Humphrey Clinker could speak of " the three bridges." Waterloo 
Bridge was to have been called " Strand " Bridge, and its date 
is marked by the changed name that has offended French visitors : 
one Parisian, not remembering his own Pont cPJena and Pont 
d' Austerlitz, hotly calls on the English to forget Waterloo. About 
the same time rose the Southwark arches to make " the Iron 
Bridge " of Little Dorr it, who had to pay a penny each time she 
crossed ; and the halfpenny toll on Waterloo Bridge may have 
barred many a poor wretch from thence flinging herself into the 
black flowing river. London Bridge, first built in stone by the 
generation that called for Magna Charta, and in the Middle Ages 
loaded with towers and houses like the poop of a Spanish galleon, 
was reconstructed, a little off its former line, in the Reform Bill 
era. Next came several bridges up the river, when also it began 
to be spanned by railways. It seems only the other day that 
on some of these bridges a small toll ceased to be levied. Still 
more fresh in one's mind is the prolonged rebuilding of Vauxhall 
Bridge, during which a temporary " Ten Year " bridge led over 
to the Tate Gallery. Blackfriars Bridge has lately been widened 
for tram-lines ; and now there is designed a new St. Paul's Bridge, 
with trams as its raison d'etre, while Southwark Bridge will be 
rebuilt beside it at a trifling expense of some couple of millions. 
The last of our bridges, opened 1894, was the Tower Bridge, 


at once the lowest and the highest of all, since looking up the 
river it looks down so commandingly from the lofty gallery open 
to pedestrians, when the central drawbridges are raised to let 
vessels pass. But from the top only tantalizing peeps can be 
had on the river, the passage being closed in, as is understood, 
to shut out a temptation to suicide that overwhelms some 
troubled heads at such dizzy elevations. Below this the Thames 
must be crossed by underground passages. The Tower Subway 
has been shut up ; and the once vaunted Thames Tunnel, with its 
subterranean fair, was not an enduring success. It is now used 
by a railway ; but near it runs the new Rotherhithe Subway for 
all sorts of traffic, echoing fearsomely beneath thousands of 
electric lamps. The sub-fluvial passage from the Isle of Dogs 
to Greenwich is only for foot passengers ; while farther down the 
Blackwall Tunnel makes a spacious carriage way. There is 
now another subway at Woolwich, where the passage by ferry, 
in fog or snow, had helped us to understand how our forefathers 
might be put to it for crossing the river, unless when bridged 
by the frosts that seem to have been more severe in good old days. 
From the bridges and tunnels open out the roads, old and 
new, that now vein South London, leading to Walworth, Brixton, 
Clapham, Wandsworth, Battersea, and so on, as their first stage. 
At such points as the " Obelisk," the " Elephant," Kennington 
Church, and Camberwell Green, these suburban highways knot 
their openings pushed through a jungle of " roads," " lanes," 
" terraces," " streets," " crescents," " paragons," and other 
titles that could once justify their pretensions, more or less — 

Through Groves so-called as being void of trees, 
(Like lucus from no light) ; through prospects named 
Mount Pleasant, as containing nought to please, 
Nor much to climb ; through little boxes framed 
Of bricks, to let the dust in at your ease, 
With " To be let " upon their doors proclaimed ; 
Through " Rows " most modestly called " Paradise," 
Which Eve might quit without much sacrifice. 

Grove was a title much affected in early South London, where 
brick has long been the chief growth ; but some new suburbs 



run rather to the pretension of Avenues. The favourite style 
seems to be " Road," even for a short byway that leads to nothing 
in particular. Enterprising builders must be at their wits' end 
for new names, and too often have fallen back upon the hackneyed 
ones repeated all over London, whose authorities now use their 
influence in favour of freshness and fitness, along with the honour- 
ing of memorable lives. More than one district in the south 
suburbs favours literary associations in a group of roads named 
after Milton, Chaucer, Spenser, or Thackeray, Froude, Carlyle, 
and so forth ; but surely not all modest householders can live up 
to a residence in Brixton's Solon Road. One corner of Battersea 
proclaims political leanings in Brougham Street, Reform Street, 
Freedom Street, and Burns Road. So in the north a builder 
brought out a series of abbeys and castles ; while another new 
quarter seems for a mile or so colonized by Devonshire names, 
from Dartmouth to Okehampton. Too often godfathers have 
fallen back upon Elms Road, or Cedar Road, vainly so called ; 
but Walnut Tree Walk looks like a genuine antique. Sometimes 
streets record the names of manor houses or landlords, as Angell 
Road, in Brixton, once the property of an old Surrey family, 
and Chichele Road in Cricklewood, that confesses the profitable 
ownership of an Oxford College. Names like Maze Pond, Gravel 
Lane, Vine Yard, Coldharbour Lane, can be easily recognized 
as belonging to social strata of old deposition. Sometimes 
buildings date themselves by such names as Albert Road, Alma 
Terrace, or Pretoria Avenue. Such others as Phillis Road, 
Edith Groves or Josephine Avenue suggest that the builder 
had a sweetheart rather than a patron saint : let us trust the 
course of true love and speculation both ran smooth. I see a 
Moncrieff Street in Peckham, nimium vicina to the now closed 
Cut -Throat Lane, which one hopes was no worse than " Cut 
Through " till corrupted by evil tongues. On old maps the Surrey 
side shows " Dirty Lanes " and " Foul Lanes " that no doubt 
deserved their name. I may mention, by the way, that in nearly 
half a century's wanderings over all parts of London, it has never 
once been my experience to be assailed or even molested ; and 
I fancy those who fall into that ill-luck generally invite it by 


keeping company with an enemy that steals away their wits. 
Forty years ago I used to cross Heme Hill by a dark " Poplar 
Walk," overhung by trees that suggested the carrying of a stout 
blackthorn stick. One night I was aware of a figure slinking 
behind the thick trunks, keeping a little way ahead of me. As 
we approached the wicket-gate at the bottom, where he would 
be bound to show himself if he meant mischief, I took good hold 
of my shillelagh, being in those days well practised at single- 
stick. Then suddenly a light flashed across the narrowed path : 
it was a policeman who had been watching me with suspicion ! 

On the outer edge of Brixton, Roupell Park has a tragic tale 
to tell of its founder, a member of Parliament who, convicted of 
forgery, served a long sentence with repentant patience, and 
came out to live honestly obscure in the district christened after 
him, his own name almost forgotten till his recent death called 
it to memory for a moment. " Park " is a new title claimed by 
some suburban precincts that would mark themselves out as 
select, though in London they do not presume to have gated 
enclosures, as is the case in some provincial towns. Well into 
the Surrey suburbs, as in the City and among the slums of South- 
wark, turn up the old-fashioned squares foreigners note as frequent 
features of London, which has two or three Trafalgar Squares 
besides that central one so ostentatiously wounding French 
susceptibilities. The squares of the Surrey side seem not as a 
rule very dignified or inviting, with their rusty railings, stunted 
trees, and plots of uncared-for turf that are indeed poor relations 
of Grosvenor Square or Russell Square. Some of these areas 
have been turned into playgrounds ; some seem destined to trans- 
formation, else why should every second house in Trinity Square, 
Borough, stand " to let," with broken windows, while Nelson 
Square still holds bravely out beside the Blackfriars Road. Wap- 
ping as well as Walworth seeks to aerate itself with squares, 
which are thrown out as far as Brixton and Clapham ; but in the 
newer suburbs, this formation seems to have fallen out of practice, 
as upon battle-fields where modern artillery could sweep down 
charging cuirassiers a mile from the hedge of bayonets. 

One must resist the temptation to make a catalogue of all 




the curious names and other monuments of buried rurality that 
linger among the outskirts of London. On its very edge, near 
Streatham, I have pointed out in my book on Surrey how there 
is a real deserted village, fitly nicknamed Lonesome, that stands 
with overgrown ways and broken windows as memorial of some 
unlucky enterprise — so stood, I might say, for as I write that 
sleeping hag may be undergoing disenchantment through the 
rattle of a tram-line newly pushed on to join the Croydon rails 
at Norbury. But here we reach the belt of commons that are 
the special possession of the south suburbs, making an obvious 
boundary not only for London as it is by law, but between the 
suburban quarters of our grandfathers, and airier outskirts which 
are suburbs indeed, some of them, too, apparently destined to 
lose their character, suffering the fate of " the priest that slew 
the slayer and shall himself be slain." 



How shall one define a suburb ? By what rule is Penge to be 
distinguished from Pentonville, Putney from Paddington ? If 
we go far enough back, the Strand was a suburb once, so were 
Spitalfields and Southwark. Islington, Kilburn, Stratford, 
Camberwell could all not so long ago be spoken of as outside 
London, to which they are now welded on by unbroken streets, 
as soon will be Barking and Ealing, Edgware and Eltham. 
The Post-Office Directory's definition is the nimbus of districts 
lying between the County limits and a rough inner ring running 
by King's Cross to Tyburnia, then down by Chelsea, over the 
river, and round the Oval, Bermondsey, Stepney, and Shoreditch, 
to the " Angel " at Islington. But with all the deference due to 
an authority of such weight, it seems vain to draw distinctions, 
unless of degree, between Bloomsbury and its neighbour Somers 
Town, between Newington and Kennington ; and several of its 
most noted suburbs stretch out far beyond London's legal frontier. 
Faring by tram or 'bus on the Brixton or the Clapham Road, 
we may note many dingily stuccoed houses adjoined by a super- 
fluous coach-house, from which the master would once drive 
to business. One meets old men who remember how from 
Hornsey or Wandsworth they jogged to the city on a cob, as their 
grandsons may speed on a cycle, but no longer skirting market 
gardens and patches of meadow. Dombey and Son's crafty 
manager rode away from the office and down to rural lanes at 
Fulham, where, like Sir Barnet Skettles, more than one of 
Thackeray's and Trollope's fine folk had river -side villas, whose 
grounds may be preserved as arenas for sport. A mile nearer 
Charing Cross, Walhaia Green made an idyllic scene for an 



eighteenth -century poet. " The Disowned " took lodgings in 
a cottage of gentility situated " towards Paddington." Wal- 
worth, where Mr. Wemmick's " Aged P." garrisoned a miniature 
castle, amid " black lanes, ditches, and little gardens," clearly 
counted itself a suburb then ; but what are we to call it now ? 

There seems no English word that exactly corresponds to the 
French faubourg, for our notion of a suburb suggests some hint 
of quasi-rusticity. On this rule, Hanwell, Mill Hill, Waltham- 
stow, Chislehurst are still openly suburban ; Dulwich, Acton, 
Brondesbury, Clapton, are losing their title to be anything but 
outskirts. Perhaps the most unquestionable sign of a suburb is 
not a hayfield or an elm grove preserved in it like a fly in amber, 
but the fact that its inhabitants, when off their guard, talk of 
going up to " London," as I have heard said in Brixton forty 
years back. At that date one clear title of a suburb was a 
spacious cemetery, taking the place of metropolitan graveyards 
closed, not too soon, by the sanitary science of the nineteenth 
century. But now such burial-grounds are embedded within 
the growth of Brompton, Hammersmith, Kensal Green, Stoke 
Newington, Bow, and other populous quarters, which can only 
be called suburban with a query, when we have to go leagues 
out of London to find peace for our dead. One of the oldest 
among once suburban cemeteries is the disused one of St. George's, 
Hanover Square, itself a modern parish, whose graveyard was 
in the Bayswater Road, not far from the Marble Arch. There 
it still makes a spacious exhibition of tombstones, removed 
to be ranged round the walls, among them Sterne's — alas ! poor 
Yorick. Another novelist, Mrs. Radcliffe, lies under the Chapel, 
less well known than it deserves to be, since it was restored by 
the late Mrs. Russell Gurney as a place of rest and prayer, and is 
now finely decorated with scriptural paintings as weH as quaint 

A suburb has been defined as a " dormitory " or residential 
district, from which the cares of business are held aloof. But 
that definition applies only to its primitive state. Beginning 
life as a shapeless mass of social protoplasm, a mere gathering 
of cells, it soon provides itself with nutritive apparatus — a mouth, 


stomach, alimentary canals — and may grow to be a highly organ- 
ized segment of the general body with which it is sooner or 
later integrated. Its first baker's, butcher's, and grocer's shops 
prove fissiparous ; its one pillar letter-box makes the germ 
of a complete nervous system ; its early tentacles become limbs ; 
it even may evolve special functions and an independent heart. 
Any Brixton or Bayswater needs only time to develop its local 
Regent Streets, Park Lanes, and Seven Dials ; and where ground 
rents are cheap factories and workshops may overshadow villas. 
But if the suburb come to have industries of its own, offices as 
well as shops, places of amusement and public institutions, 
separate local government and a parish patriotism, however 
feeble, it has ceased to be a true suburb. It then hardens into 
a Clerkenwell or Lambeth, another trunk of the banyan grove 
that sends out seeds and suckers to spring up freshly on its 
spreading edges. 

Several of London's most thriving shoots, indeed, are grafted 
on to old country towns, like Barnet, Harrow, Croydon, and 
Romford, interlacing their branches with those of the Metropolis. 
The suburb proper has its root in town, while it stretches its 
branches towards the country. It may be known by its being, 
like Mrs. Gaskell's Cranford, " in possession of the Amazons," 
except at the morning and evening hours, when men scurry like 
ants in and out of the station or tram-car. Through the day its 
streets are chiefly alive with women and perambulators, the 
male sex being represented by casual errand-boys, tax-collectors, 
hawkers, and tramps, with here and there a curate, a poet, a 
retired veteran airing himself in the sun. If you meet a man 
wearing the high hat of Pall Mall, you guess him to be a doctor. 
At an afternoon tea-party, unless where votes for women are on 
the tapis, the dullest he may plume himself as cock of the walk. 
Even a schoolboy, in his holiday hours, is at a premium among 
petticoats that belittle one another by their numerosity. It 
was of such a society a certain damsel complained that the hints 
were all either too ancient or too modern. Through the day its 
life ebbs into trickling streams and stagnant pools of nursing, 
cooking, shopping, and gossiping. Towards evening the tide 



flows back in a foam of news, greetings, meals, games, strolls, 
meetings, love-making by moonlight, gardening at sunset, neigh- 
bourly visits, or what not — quidquid agunt homines, when both 
sexes are free to amuse themselves and each other. I do not go 
so far as an admiring foreigner, who saw our athletic youth pouring 
out of shop and factory to play cricket on Christmas-tide evenings. 

Another note of a right suburb should be its respectability, 
in the fullest sense of the term. I see that a recent moralist 
identifies the suburbs with the middle classes. That personifica- 
tion is hardly comprehensive, for there are suburbs, such as 
Hampstead and Richmond, housing residents who would hardly 
care to rank themselves as mere suburbans. On the other hand, 
our municipal authorities have been fostering working-class 
suburbs far out their wide-stretched tram-lines, at Tottenham 
and at Tooting, for instance ; then certain back-door industries, 
the offices of London's state, bring forth a brood of small homes, 
like those about the gas-works of Beckton or the Metropolitan 
Railway's electrical reservoirs at Neasden. But in general it 
may be admitted that the typical suburban is one to whom 
Heaven has granted Agar's prayer, giving neither poverty nor 
riches, one whose chief care is to make both ends meet as credit- 
ably as possible, one who through the day is bound to wear a 
subfusc coat and a stiff hat, but at night willingly gets into 
slippers or tennis flannels, according to his time of life. He 
is apt to be, in esse or in posse, the character reviled by French 
Socialists as the bourgeois. On this side the Channel he seems 
rather a butt for the smart young men of Pall Mall and Fleet 
Street, who accuse him of not dressing for dinner, even of being 
seen in his shirt-sleeves in hot weather, of paying his bills 
weekly, of spending much time in the bosom of his family, 
and of going to bed, as a rule, before the chimes have rung 

The word " respectable " has now grown somewhat sere, 
following the shrivelled fate of " genteel," both of them rejected 
alike by smart cynics and by sentimental moralists. One may 
give up gentility as past praying for ; but I am not sure if we 
can do so well without respectability I myself began life as 


a fervid believer in unsophisticated human nature. Having 
learned of the poets, I held rank to be but the guinea stamp, 
often marking a coinage debased from the true gold of honest 
poverty ; I looked askance on wealth as the root of all evil ; and 
the devil seemed to me most incarnate in the transactions of 
business. But it does not take half a century's experience of 
life to show noble patricians and open-handed tradesmen to be 
at least as common as horny-handed heroes. From study as 
well as from observation one learns to know virtue as a cultivated 
plant, sometimes, indeed, blooming wild, but often to be manured 
from what might rot as vice ; to see how the coarsest superstitions 
and the sourest wrongs are distilled into wholesome morals, how 
the same chemical elements in different proportions make an 
explosive gas or a healing balm. In this more considerate view, 
it appears that honesty is much a matter of habit, that various 
virtues often imply an absence of temptation ; that graces come 
from opportunity and leisure ; and that the best of us might be 
less good, were it not for fear of some spiritual or material police- 
man round the corner of our life. As we carry our analyses into 
the operations of Nature, we find her working by like laws of moral 
chemistry, here and there, indeed, evolving a bright crystal 
where might rather be expected a lump of coal, but most often 
producing in the long-run just such reactions as we have learned 
to look for in our own experiments. 

Once life appears not only as a being, but a becoming, one 
sees it in another aspect, and revises one's crude judgments. 
In the matter of social differences, I am not singular in having 
grown out of early enthusiasms to perceive that, if all classes 
show their own qualities and defects, the best chance of real 
superiority belongs to that now somewhat suspected middle 
class, which has traditions, associations, and means to buoy it 
above the muddy stream submerging too many fellow-voyagers 
through life, while it is anchored by duties, responsibilities, and 
claims, not suffering it to drift to wreck in gilded idleness. But 
the very virtues of the respectable minority have this defect, 
that they are best bred and cherished on condition of standing 
aloof from the grossness of common humanity. Is not the 


history of our modern society, with its crying evils, a dispropor- 
tionate growth of respectability in classes that have too little 
been concerned to help up the moral and mental status of those 
below, then often seem in danger of being infected by the corrupt- 
ing mass left out of mind so long as out of sight ? The community 
which should be a mixture of blending tints, tends to split into 
a West -end and an East-end of life, one able to afford cleanness 
of body, culture of spirit, luxury of feeling, too much at the expense 
of the other, none the less bound to coarser necessities, if it could 
shake off the burden which some of its teachers see in an idle 
aristocracy. But whatever class be held up to reprobation, the 
least worthy of it should seem the vaguely defined middle class 
that has affinities on either hand, and that, while standing most 
solidly on its own base, is dovetailed into the trials and the 
privileges both of Dives and of Lazarus. 

One strong point of British respectability is its family life. 
Dives, who more often appears in the Divorce Court, packs his 
sons off betimes to some preparatory school for Eton or Harrow ; 
and the best part of his wife's day begins when she has seen, or 
not seen, her children tucked up in bed. Lazarus is rather willing 
to let his youngsters run wild in the streets, where they learn what 
life is from brawling neighbours and public-house doors. It is 
the middle-class John Bull who strives hardest to bring up his 
family in decency and order, providing for them a nest from 
which he is banished for the day, yet while he can will have the 
youngsters about him, growing up in something like fresh air 
without much temptation to find pleasure far from home. He 
perhaps would willingly live nearer his work, but he faces a daily 
ordeal of crowded travel, an hour's earlier rising, a double docking 
of his own hours of ease, that those smooth cheeks may have a 
chance to be rosier. The rationale of suburban homes is our 
wholesome domesticity. 

This virtue does not commend itself without question. The 
typical suburb is understood to be a city of the Philistines, much 
deficient in such culture as Matthew Arnold would desire, and 
in such amusements as seemed indispensable to Tittlebat Tit- 
mouse. Its ideals are low : its blood runs slow ; it wants public 


spirit and exciting stir. In a word, its life is voted dull, by 
superior seekers after sweetness and light as by inferior sowers 
of wild oats, a crop that finds congenial soil on more glaringly 
lit pavements. But the charge seems much exaggerated. The 
suburb has a social life of its own in which Balham is hardly 
worse off than Bayswater. Suburban families are more easily 
knit together by soon-made ties and kindred tastes. Church 
or Chapel associations, athletic clubs, volunteer corps, schools, 
all do the part of a Freemasons' Lodge in paving the way to 
acquaintance and friendship . The freer companionship in pastime 
of young men and maidens has in the last generation availed to 
enliven suburban life, while its range is extended by the tram- 
line and the cycle. Nor are public amusements far to seek, even 
if those of the Strand were not as accessible to Kennington as 
to Kensington, more accessible, indeed, to West Kensington 
than to Westbourne Terrace. Every prosperous suburb has its 
halls, its ball-rooms, its public library, sometimes its theatre, 
as well as its tennis-grounds and cricket-fields ; and if one were to 
go the round of suburban places of edification and amusement, 
it might be found that they were not so much worse off for 
concerts, lectures, and spectacles than are the richer quarters 
of London. The tether of our middle class to home is now- 
adays a question of means, and of leisure, rather than of 

It comes to this, that the right suburban has subsided into 
taking his pleasure somewhat sadly — that is, soberly and con- 
siderately, as has been pronounced the manner natural to English- 
men. For one reason or other, he has turned his back on those 
heady joys of the Haymarket, those toilsome pastimes of Mayfair. 
He has learned by practical philosophy or enforced morality 
what place amusement should take in his life. He adapts himself 
to his inevitable environment. He cuts his coat according to 
his cloth. Without reading Carlyle, he has hit on the golden 
rule that one's " Fraction of Life can be increased in value not 
so much by increasing your Numerator as by lessening your 

I might have said sooner that living in the suburbs is a good 


deal a matter of economy. At Heme Hill or Highbury one gets 
a roomy house and a strip of garden for less than the rent of a 
cramped flat at Westminster. The liveliest spark, lodged at 
Dulwich or Dalston, might treat himself to a motor-cab daily 
to and from Charing Cross, and still save money by sleeping in 
these antipodean quarters. In fog or frost, indeed, if one have 
missed the last train, the getting home to Norwood or to Nunhead 
presents a difficult problem. Forty years ago, dining at Hamp- 
stead, and having forgotten to ballast myself with gold or silver, 
for me it was then an easy adventure to walk all through London 
to my home on its southern edge. But solvitur ambulando does 
not fit the gouty and wheezy old fogy, who learns to be cautious 
in trusting himself far from his Lares and Penates. I remember 
with shuddering the mishaps of a suburban friend who, having 
taken stalls at a theatre for himself and his wife, to celebrate 
their wedding anniversary, came out into one of the blackest fogs 
that ever paralyzed London traffic. I recall my own experience 
when, arriving at midnight from a long and weary Continental 
journey, my purse, full of foreign notes, contained only two 
shillings in English coin. I lived just on the edge of the four- 
mile radius, to which I could make a cabman drive me for that 
sum, but justice forbade to take him on such terms, where he 
would have no chance of a fare back. Therefore, I opened a 
transaction with one in the view of driving part of the way for 
my two shillings ; but my home lay in such an unpromising 
direction, that he began by making an exorbitant demand. 
Rather than haggle, I started to walk through deserted streets, 
followed by my jarvey, who dogged me with ejaculations — 
" What's your money ?" — promptings of mutual accommoda- 
tion. " Well, you are a strange gentleman !" he exclaimed, 
when pride kept me silent to his suggestions ; then, as he seemed 
disposed to follow me halfway, I took him into confidence as to 
my plight ; and the end of it was that he drove me the best way 
home and civilly received my little all. Never except that once 
would I treat a cabman so scrimply, by the letter of the law. 
It is, by the way, no good sign of a suburb's character, to have 
pabs prowling about it in the small hours. 



I speak of what I know, having been more or less a suburban 
for the best part of more than forty years. Well do I remember 
my first dismal winter spent in the skirts of that " stony-hearted 
stepmother " Oxford Street, and how, wandering outwards at 
random, I rejoiced to come upon a sodden green slope, down 
which now stretches the pride of Fitz John's Avenue. Since then 
I have lived by choice in such outlying quarters, trying and 
exploring many of very different degrees of amenity and pre- 
tension. I have been at home in Richmond and in Bethnal 
Green ; beside Hampstead Heath and Clapham Common ; near 
the " Green " Lanes of Stoke Newington, and within earshot of 
the roar that follows the University Boat-race ; by the all-night 
rumble of main lines of rail to the north and west, as by the small- 
hours rattle of Covent Garden, from which in my salad days I 
loved at dawn to walk out the great approaches of the Metropolis, 
and meet the waggons bringing in shearings of " Flora and the 
country green." I never much troubled myself about the com- 
parative gentility of these abodes : in my line of business one 
may live at Colney Hatch as creditably as at Cricklewood, more 
quietly in some suburban Grub Road than in Piccadilly Chambers ; 
and craftsmen in our trade need not old Izaak Walton's hint : 
" study to be quiet." 

There is only one quarter of outer London in which I have never 
set up my tent, and fear in the years remaining I never shall. 
"So it seems ; I stand on my attainment." Thus, like another 
quasi-Londoner, I have gained a knowledge of the capital and 
its surroundings which may be called " extensive and peculiar." 
Goldsmith, one remembers, was in the way of making at least 
temporary sojourns in those outskirts which gay dogs like 
Johnson and Boswell might damn as " remote, unfriended, 
melancholy, slow " ; but if that " citizen of the world " had used 
his opportunities as well as my humour has led me to do he 
might have made bold to present himself as guide, philosopher, 
and friend to those who would know not only London, but about 
it. Where I now live, in a few minutes I can get upon grassy 
paths that, with a few spans of macadamized bridging, lead me 
for miles along brambled hedgerows and over daisied meadows ; 



yet in less than half an hour I can run the chance of being jugger- 
nauted by a motor-car in Pall Mall or Piccadilly. Naturally, 
one is shy of advertising such an eligible place of residence, so 
I will hint no more than that it is not a hundred miles from 
Turnham Green, nor yet from Finsbury Park. 

So I praise the suburbs as one that has a right to speak, and 
am in a position to criticize, to describe, and to distinguish 
among them. But common repute hardly needs the aid of 
experience in declaring how one suburb outshines or outbulks 
another in its characteristics, and notably in its rents. Highgate 
looks down on Kentish Town and Holloway ; Richmond holds 
its head above Mortlake, Wimbledon above Merton, Stamford 
Hill above Tottenham. So Haverstock Hill looks up to Hamp- 
stead Heath ; and Peckham is willing to be merged with Dulwich. 
The upper parts of Putney are not for every man's money. 
Chislehurst keeps itself aloof from its neighbour Bromley ; 
Carshalton from Mitcham, redolent of lavender but also of 
shag tobacco. Esher and Hampton Court take on airs of courtli- 
ness, as purlieus each of a royal palace ; yet a ducal mansion cannot 
bestow dignity on Brentford or Isleworth. Some suburbs are 
able to pride themselves on quaint corners of old-world picturesque- 
ness, such as Greenwich rising from its water front to the steeps 
of Blackheath ; the Mall of Chiswick, with its memories of 
Hogarth ; and Strand-on-the-Green, the river-side hamlet of 
Gunnersbury. Others frankly take their stand on being new, 
with all modern improvements, or on a healthful and airy situa- 
tion. Many have no better recommendation than low rentals. 
Their besetting fault is a monotony of plan and structure spread 
over miles of roads, all housing much the same class of occupants 
at much the same rate. Not every suburb shows Hampstead's 
charming variety, where builders have followed Nature in a 
mingling of elevations and aspects. 

Certain suburbs are understood to attract particular classes 
of residents. The northern heights may well be dear to Scots- 
men. The north-eastern outskirts are thickly populated by City 
clerks. Solicitors seem to prefer south-western stations on the 
line to Waterloo. Brixton used to have a name for stockbrokers. 


Another suburb is said to abound in journalists. More than one 
runs to small, smart houses, inviting young married couples 
who hope to rise in their world. Sons and daughters of the 
muses, who can't afford Kensington, are fain to put up with 
St. John's Wood. A home at Surbiton has been supposed most 
fit for successful West - end tradesmen ; as one at Ealing for 
retired officials. Clapham Park had at one time the credit of 
being affected by ex-Lord Mayors and the like, whose grounds, 
indeed, begin to be cut up for humbler homes. But I fancy that 
of late years professions and trades, like classes, have got to be 
more jumbled. Then suburbs come to change their character, 
as they wax or wane. Nobody could style Islington merry 
or Edmonton rustic, now that even Enfield is reached by tram 
through what were once the Green Lanes. Pope would not 
know Twickenham as it is now, nor Byron the Harrow of ten 
thousand citizens. The edges of Epping Forest used to draw 
Quakers and other grave sectaries, who now seem lost in a meaner 
worldliness. The Clapham Sect no longer dominates Clapham, 
that has in the last generation been strongly invaded by Rome 
and Ritualism. The flats of Battersea would no longer delight 
Turner by their blocks of high " mansions " and long rows 
of streets. The villas and market-gardens of Fulham are fast 
being covered with a cheap suburb, as Hammersmith has long 
been behind its stately river-front. Chiswick has lost its bloom 
of aristocracy. But Roehampton still looks as if its parks and 
villas might be occupied by rich bankers, as when thence 
Mrs. Frederick Bullock came to look down upon her paternal 
home in Russell Square. 

The sociability of a suburb seems in inverse proportion to its 
pretensions. Mrs. Bullock at Roehampton, and Mr. Spenlow 
(of Jorkins and Spenlow) at Norwood, could order their carriages 
to dine with relatives in Berkeley Square or Baker Street. 
Poorer folks have to seek social intercourse closer at hand. In 
the poorest neighbourhoods, neighbours are apt to be but too 
neighbourly. As one gets up the scale, privacy can be better 
fenced. At a certain height of fortune, acquaintance will be 
first made on washing days through broken palings of the back 


gardens. " When there is a child, you always speak," a motherly 
housewife instructed me as to her code of etiquette. Where the 
social air grows thinner, neighbours are more ready to keep their 
mouths shut, till the ice be broken through a formal call. In 
genteeler suburbs, one cultivates indifference to the family 
next door, whose very name may remain unknown. Such a 
name was for the first time brought to my notice lately by a news- 
paper revelation that its owner had ceased to be a street-mate 
of mine, as removed for a considerable term to airier quarters at 
Dartmoor or Portland. I remember another gentleman who 
lived within hail of me for years, whose name was not unknown 
in the scientific world, and whom I could not help knowing at 
least by sight, though I was never sure if he recognized me as 
a neighbour. We met constantly in the street, on the platform 
of our station, at a club we both belonged to, yet in a dozen years 
we never spoke, no ceremony of introduction having passed 
between us. One night — it was that of the Queen's Jubilee — 
we had been dining at the same table, and found ourselves 
travelling home in opposite corners of the same compartment. It 
seeming to me churlish that we should sit like mutes at a funeral 
on such an occasion of rejoicing, I ventured the remark that 
there were many people about that evening. "So it appears," 
answered my unsociable neighbour, in a dry, creaking voice 
which I then heard for the first time, and the last. 

This gentleman, I hasten to say, was a foreigner by birth. 
But John Bull, whatever he may have been once, is not such 
a stiff and stand-offish fellow as he is made out to be by critics, 
who mistake his want of abandon for morgue. Even at the most 
frigid social altitudes, there are always plenty of people willing 
to exchange civilities with a congenial stranger, once they can be 
sure of him. If the stranger be a neighbour, indeed, he has to 
be entertained with caution, since in that case it will not be so 
easy to get rid of him, if he turn out no angelic guest. But 
one takes it that they who set up their tent in some exclusive 
suburb, make the venture as having friends there already, or 
connections, or at least introductions. I do not suppose my 
own experience to be exceptional ; and after living in many 


suburbs, I can recall none where I did not make acquaintances, 
some of whom were well worth making. 

While suburban sociability has increased in our time, this 
tendency seems to some extent counteracted by a greater mobility 
of social atoms. Panta rei becomes more and more the rule 
about London, where solvent inhabitants of past generations 
were oftener apt to settle for life in a suburb that had old- 
established families, like the Gurneys of West Ham or the Thorn- 
tons of Clapham, to make a nucleus of congenial coteries. But 
nowadays, shifting one's household gods is a mere matter of a 
wrench, often performed under an anaesthetic so far as the head 
of the family is concerned, and made comparatively painless by 
the care of specialist experts in removal, who no longer justify 
the calculation of three Sittings being equal to a fire. In these 
moving times, households go up and down in the world, rising 
from Ball's Pond to Buckhurst Hill, or falling from Blackheath 
to Brockley ; or perhaps seeking a change of scene on the same 
level for various reasons : the doctor recommends a drier soil ; 
paterfamilias, grown pursy, desires an easier route into business ; 
the young folks would like to be near the river ; some of them fly 
off to make nests of their own, and the mother bird may be fain 
to follow ; sometimes mere restlessness and love of change give the 
spur ; then the result is that a family settled one year in South- 
gate may come to keep its next Christmas at Sutton. There is 
little warmth of parish patriotism in the suburbs, as not too 
much in the whole Metropolis. One's pride in being a Londoner 
is frittered away in quasi-citizenship of Streatham or Willesden ; 
and that again strikes no deep root, when in a few years it may 
be transplanted to the opposite side of London, from clay to chalk, 
from the mild air of Brompton to the bracing heights of Norwood, 
from the watershed of the Metropolitan railway to the basin of 
the District line, or to some delta of County Council tramways. 

The spread of rails of all sorts is both cause and effect of the 
tide setting outwards. A few years ago, the old Watling Street 
between Cricklewood and Edgware was almost rustic, but for 
colonies like the Welsh Harp and a straggling edge of Hendon. 
In a few years more, now that an electric tram plies along it, 



this road will be lined with houses. Since a Tube reached Golder's 
Green, houses have been springing up like mushrooms to hide 
the modest hamlet of Temple Fortune. Bushey Heath, where 
one may be two or three miles from a station, and Stanmore, 
which is worse off on Sundays, will soon find their seclusion 
invaded by improved communications that draw the Londoner 
to fresh woods and pastures new. When the District Railway 
slightly increased its fares, the landlords of Wimbledon raised 
a bitter cry as if it were foul play not to carry their tenants at 
a loss ; but, indeed, whole miles of suburb have been strung on 
this line, that has failed to fill its own pockets as it has done for 
builders and house-agents. 

While the builder is briskly at work in parishes like Acton, 
Enfield, Han well, Twickenham, Tottenham, and Wood Green, 
whose population has increased by a third or so in the last half- 
dozen years, there has fallen a blight on once flourishing house- 
property farther in, filling whole streets with withered leaves 
in the shape of notices " To let." The centrifugal tendency is not 
so much marked in the actual centres of fashion and business, but, 
rather, in the ring of what for the last generation were attractive 
suburbs, some of which, like Maida Vale and West Brompton, 
are striving to hold their own by adapting themselves to the 
age in blocks of "mansions." In West Kensington, Kilburn, 
Kentish Town, hundreds of houses stand unlet, even when their 
owners are fain to convert them into inconvenient flats. Outer 
suburbs, also, such as Nunhead and Anerley, find themselves 
depleted in favour of more " up-to-date " environs. Camber- 
well has lately lost thousands of voters, many of whom are 
acquiring a fresh franchise at Thornton Heath, where the gap of 
fields between Norbury and Croydon will soon be covered by 
modest homes ; and beyond Croydon, Purley and Sanderstead 
are draining away residents once content with the quasi-rusticity 
of Tulse Hill or Denmark Hill. 

The sort of house that fails to find tenants nowadays is the 
typical genteel residence of two generations back, with stairs 
to keep servants running up and down from the sunk basement 
in which they are unwholesomely quartered ; and, if its drains 


be sound, it may not have a bathroom such as is found in every 
new cottage. The sort of home that proves a successful rival 
to Paddington and Brixton streets, is a villa or bungalow of two 
or three stories, built with an eye to snug effect, and having 
at least a plot of garden to help out a general show of roses and 
hawthorns blooming on the edge of London's shadow. In such 
a semi-rural spot the pavements may still lead to groves and 
field-paths, where the youngsters can get air and exercise, and 
Mr. Bull himself, if he have so much salt of youth in him, may 
not be far from a golf-course or even a meet of hounds. It is 
Mrs. Bull who is sometimes to be pitied in such quasi-seclusion, 
when she has no children to fill it with sweet cares. 

The reader's humble servant once lived in Park Village — 
not every reader knows where that is — which seems to represent 
London's first attempt at an aesthetic suburb, timidly designed 
after the Strawberry Hill Gothic model. It was a twin birth, 
Park Village East and Park Village West, one of them nothing if 
not respectable, the other — but scandalous tongues will wag ! 
The side in which I had a modestly secluded home, kept dry 
and snug between a railway cutting and a canal, was years ago 
swept away by a spate of the railway, which also drowned a queer 
little square at one end ; but a few houses, still showing their 
gimcrack battlements and snugly stuccoed casements, look like 
to outlast the flimsy redness of Bedford Park, that two genera- 
tions later invited young " greenery- yallery " couples of the 
school satirized by Du Maurier and Gilbert. 

Now, on the edge of Hampstead Heath, a Garden Suburb has 
spread fast and far to illustrate the latest counsels of artistic and 
social perfection, not to speak of rivals in other London out- 
skirts. And more than thirty miles from London has been 
laid out a Garden City, hailed as an asylum for unworldly 
spirits, including a proportion of those vulgarly set down as 
" cranks." This settlement, already housing half a dozen 
thousand people, provides not only real cottages and bungalows, 
but room for industries that may be more cheaply and healthily 
carried on here than in the thronged Metropolis. Such an experi- 
ment seems to command as well as to deserve success. The 



name at least has " caught on," that is now being copied by quiet 
villages, in Essex and elsewhere, where enterprising landlords 
and builders scheme out " garden towns " beyond the withering 
range of London's breath. The oldest of all such remote experi- 
ments, I believe, was the bungalow village of Bellagio, on the 
Surrey and Sussex border, which proved so far before its time 
that it has been fain to make a fresh bid for prosperity under 
a new name. 

If London go on growing at its present rate, another genera- 
tion should see it transformed into a pile of tall barracks and 
workhouses, aerated by parks, squares, and ex-churchyards, open- 
ing out in long lines of populous road into roomy suburbs, whose 
spread will be checked only by the white cliffs of Albion, perhaps 
not even there when air-ships and tunnels have supplied rapid 
transit between the valleys of the Seine and of the Thames. 
Or is it London's destiny to suffer that fate which Macaulay 
foresaw through the eyes of a New Zealander, as before him Horace 
Walpole imagined a citizen of Lima wondering over the ruins of 
St. Paul's ? Our rival political factions proclaim us to be at 
present making a choice of Hercules, on which will depend 
Britain's future, and with that the greatness of her capital. 
Are there children now alive whose bleared eyes may see London 
shrunk to its old bounds, perhaps huddled on some choice site 
like the heights of Highgate and Hampstead — which, according 
to Mother Shipton's prophecy, should become its centre — when 
for leagues, as about the walls of Delhi or Pekin, the open country 
will be dotted with ruined temples and towers round the broken 
dome on Ludgate Hill, standing up in solitary state like the Kutub 
Minar ? Can it ever come to lie squalidly deserted for a new 
city rebuilt by some conqueror, as at Bokhara and Samarcand ? 
Are there generations yet unborn to whom this capital will be 
a show like " hundred-gated Thebes," a quarry of antiquities like 
Nineveh or Knossos, a mystery like the Cambodian Angkor or the 
Bolivian Tiahuanaco, an overgrown wilderness like the buried 
ruins of Yucatan ? Is it possible that some distant age will 
know of London nothing but its name, when as yet undreamt-of 
structures have overlaid every fragment of the achievements 



on which we boast against the past, unconscious how our pride 
may point a moral or a mockery for the future ? 

Every vestige of the city, guessed alone, 

Stock or stone — 

Where a multitude of men breathed Joy and woe 

Long ago : 

Love of glory pricked their hearts up, dread of shame 

Struck them tame ; 

And that glory and that shame alike, the gold 

Bought and sold. 


Achilles statue, the, 228 
Acton, 291 

Adams, the brothers, 87 
Albert Memorial, the, 228 
Aldgate Pump, 242 
Aldwych, 85 
Alfred, King, 17 
Alleyn, Edward, 276 
Alsatia, 72 
Anarchists, 132 
Apsley House, 228 
Aquarium, the, 153 
" Astley's," 271 

Ball's Pond, 302 

Bank of England, the, 40 

Bankside, 268 

Barclay and Perkins' Brewery, 273 

Barking, 240 

Barking Road, 254 

Barnard's Inn, 84 

Barnet, 292 

Barnet Fair, 271 

Bartholomew Fair, 62 

Baths, 92 

Battersea, 284, 300 

Battersea Park, 237 

Baynard Castle, 68 

" Bayswater," 192 

" Bear Garden," the, 269 

Beckton, 293 

Bedford Park, 304 

Beggars, 126 

Belgravia, 190 

Bellagio, 305 

Bermondsey, 281 

Bermondsey Abbey, 281 

Besant, Sir Walter, 241 

Bethnal Green, 243, 256 

Billingsgate, 17 

Billingsgate Market, 33 

Bird-cage Walk, 217 

Black Death, the, 23 

Blackfriars, 71 
Blackfriars Bridge, 285 
Blackheath, 299 
Blaokwall, 252 
Blackwall Tunnel, 251 
Blessington, Lady, 198 
Bloomsbury, 193 
Blue-coat Hospital, 55 
Boarding-houses, 96 
Borough, the, 267 
Botanio Gardens, 237 
Bow, 255 
Bow Bells, 29 
Bow Bridge, 255 
Bow Creek, 252 
Brentford, 299 
Bridewell, 66 

British Constitution, the, 138 
British Museum, 82 
Broad Walk, the, 227 
Brockley, 302 
Brockwell Park, 238 
Bromley, 255, 299 
Brompton, 191, 303 
Brondesbury, 291 
Buckhurst Hill, 302 
Buckingham, Duke of, 86 
Buckingham Palace, 221 
Bulwer Lytton's novels, 197 
Bunhill Fields, 54 
Burdett, Francis, 20 
Burnham Beeches, 239 
Bushey Heath, 303 

Cab radius, the, 119 
Cabs, 118 

Canonbury Tower, 53 
Canterbury Pilgrims, the, 280 
Canute, 17 

Card-playing, 161, 172 
Carlton House, 221 
Caroline, funeral of Queen, 225 
Carshalton, 299 




Cato Street conspiracy, 20 
Cemeteries, suburban, 291 
Central Criminal Court, 59 
Chapel Royal, 222 

of the Savoy, 86 
Charing Cross, 107 
Charity Organization, 127, 264 
Charlton Fair, 271 
Charterhouse, the, 55 
Cheapside, 29 
Chelsea, 14, 191 
" Cheshire Cheese," the, 80 
Child's Bank, 80 
Chislehurst, 291 
Chiswick, 300 
Chiswick Mall, 249, 299 
Christ Church, 58 
Christ Hospital, 58 
Christopher Wren, 46 
City apprentices, 30, 67 
City churches, the, 32 
City companies, the, 33 
City, the, 14, 43 
City Wall, 16 
Clapham, 300 
Clapham Park, 300 
Clapton, 291 
Clement's Inn, 83 
Cleopatra's Needle, 138 
Clergy, East-end, 256 
Clifford's Inn, 83 
Clink, the, 278 
Clock Tower, 136 
Cloth Fair, 51 
Club elections, 167 
Clubland, 157 
Clubs at East-end, 265 
Clubs, history of, 158 
Clubs, ladies', 183 
Clubs, nicknames of, 164 
" Cockney," origin of, 7 
Cockpits, 269 
Coffee-houses, 80, 159 
Commercial Road, 24 
Constitution Hill, 218 
Costermongers, 247 
Court of Common Council, 21 
Courts of Justice, the, 74 
Cremorne Gardens, 271 
Crosby Place, 27 
" Crown and Anchor," the, 81 
Croydon, 292 
" Curse of Cowdray," the, 275 

Danes in London, the, 17 
Dane's Inn, 83 
Demonstrations, 129 

Demonstrations in the Park, 234 

Denison, Edward, 263 

Denison House, 127, 263 

Deptford, 284 

" Devil's Own," the, 81 

Dick Whittington, 29 

Dickens' novels, 201 

Disraeli's novels, 199 

Docks, the, 252 

Doctors' Commons, 49 

Don Juan's view of London, 281 

D'Orsay, Count, 198 

Downing Street, 121 

Duck Island, 217 

Duke Humphrey, 45 

Dulwich, 291 

Dulwich College, 276 

Dynamite explosions, 137 

Ealing, 300 
East-end, the, 240 
East-end clergy, 256 
East-end, people of the, 262 
East Ham, 255, 257 
Edgware Road, 135 
Edmonton, 300 
*l Elephant and Castle," 280 
Emigres, the, 124 
Enfield, 300 
Epping Forest, 239 
Esher, 299 

Essex boroughs, the, 4, 255 
" Evans's," 104 
Evelyn's Diary, 26 
Executions, public, 60 
Executions, State, 19 
Exeter Hall, 87 
Exhibition of 1851, 220 

Fairs, 271 

Finsbury, 193 

Finsbury Park, 237 

Fire, the Great, 26 

First Mayor, 21 

Fitz Aylwin, 21 

Fitzjohn's Avenue, 298 

Fitz Stephen's chronicle, 24 

Flats, 188 

Fleet Prison, the, 63 

Fleet, " Rules " of the, 65 

Fleet Street, 68 

Foreign colony, the, 123 

Fourth Estate, the, 143 

" Foxhall," 270 

French colony, the, 131 

Fulham, 300 

Furnival's Inn, 75 



Gambling clubs, 161 

Garden City, the, 304 

Garden suburbs, 304 

Garibaldi in London, 274 

" George " Inn, Southwark, 279 

Germans in London, 131 

Gladstone Park, 238 

Globe Theatre, the, 273 

Gog and Magog, 39 

Golder's Green, 303 

" Gondola of London," the, 118 

Gore House, 198 

Gray's Inn, 82 

Great Fire, the, 26 

Great Plague, the, 25 

" Green " Lanes, the, 298 

Green Park, the, 219 

44 Green Street," 257 

Greenwich, 299 

Greenwich Fair, 271 

Guildhall, the, 39 

Gunnersbury, 299 

Guy Fawkes, 136 

Guy's Hospital, 277 

Hainault Forest, 239 

Harley Street, 193 

Harrow, 292 

Hampstead, 3, 193, 293 

Hampstead Heath, 238 

Hampton Court, 299 

Hanwell, 291 

Hatton Garden, 131 

Havering-atte-Bower, 241 

Haverstock Hill, 299 

Hay Markets, 108 

Haynau's adventure, Baron, 273 

Hendon, 302 

Hertford House, 204 

Highgate, 299 

Historic associations, 11 

History of London, 14 

Holborn, 74 

Holloway, 299 

Holy well, the, 85 

Holywell Street, 85 

Honourable Artillery Company, the, 7 

Hop Exchange, the, 275 

Horse Guards, 275 

Horsleydown, 281 

Horsemonger Lane Gaol, 279 

Hospitals : 

Guy's, 277 

London, the, 247 

St. Bartholomew's, 53 

St. Katherine's, 236, 241 

St. Thomas's, 277 

Hotels, 87 

Hounsditch, 245 

House of Commons, 139 

House of Lords, 141 

" Hub of the universe," tho, 121 

"Hummums " Hotel, the, 92 

Hungerford Market, 108 

Hyde Park, 222 

Hyde Park, Arcadia in, 230 

Hyde Park Corner, 227 

H yde Park, preachers in, 235 

Hyde Park, Ring of, 223 

Hyde Park, riots in, 234 

Ilford, 256 

Imperial Institute, the, 227 

" Inns of Chancery," 83 

Inns of Court, the, 75 

Irish in London, 73 

Isle of Dogs, the, 250 

Isleworth, 299 

Islington, 300 

Italian colony, the, 131 

44 Jack the Ripper," 242 
Jerusalem Chamber, the, 151 
Jews in London, 243 
Johnson, Dr., in Fleet Street, 73 

Kensington, 191 

Kensington Gardens, 230 

Kensington Palace, 223, 232 

Kentish Town, 299 

Kew Palace, 220 

King Lud, 15 

King's Bench, the, 65, 278 

Kingsway, 85 

Knights of St. John, 77 

Knights Templar, 76 

Ladies' Clubs, 183 

Lambeth, 284 

Lambeth Marsh, 267 

Lambeth Palace, 284 

Lea, River, 255 

Leather Lane, 131 

Leicester Square, 123 

Limehouse, 254 

Lincoln's Inn, 81 

Little Britain, 50 

Lloyd's, 40 

London Bridge, 284 

London, extent and divisions, 3 

London Ghetto, the, 244 

London Government Act, 3 

London Hospital, the, 247 

London postal district, 4 



London Stone, 16 
London Wall, 16 
" Lonesome," 289 
Lord Mayor, the, 21, 37 
Lord Mayor's Show, the, 33 
Lud, King, 15 
Ludgate, 65 
Lyon's Inn, 83 

Maida Vale, 303 

Maiden Lane, 272 

Mansion House, the, 37 

Marble Arch, the, 227 

Markets, 246 

Marlborough House, 221 

Marshalsea, 278 

Marylebone Park, 236 

Mass - meetings in Trafalgar Square, 

Mayfair, 187 
Mayor, first, 21 

Metropolitan Police District, 4 
Mile End Road, 255 
Mill Hill, 291 
Millwall Dock, 251 
Minories, the, 245 
Mint, the, 41 
MitchamFair, 271 
Montfichet Tower, 18 
Monument, the, 28 
Moorfields, 14 
Mortlake, 299 

" Mother of Parliaments," 138 
Motor- 'buses, 113 
Music-halls, 103 

Neasden, 293 

Neighbours in London, 301 

Nelson Column, 122 

Nelson's tomb, 47 

Newgate, 59 

Newington Causeway, 267 

New Inn, 84 

New Kent Road, the, 280 

New River Company, the, 29 

Newsboys, 71 

Newspaper land, 68 

Nine Elms, 284 

Nine Worthies of London, the, 22 

Norman Conqueror, the, 18 

Northumberland Avenue, 108 

Norwood, 300 

Novels of high life, 196 

Old Bailey, the, 59 

" Old Curiosity Shop," the, 82 

Old Jewry, the, 244 

Old Kent Road, 280 

" Old Tabard " Inn, 279 

Omnibus, the, 114 

Organ-grinders, 131 

Osborne family, origin of the, 22 

Oxford House, 264 

Palaces, 215 

Pall Mall, 216 

Panyer Alley, 44 

Paris Garden, 269 

Park Village, 304 

Parks, 215 

" Parliaments, Mother of," 138 

Paternoster Row, 49 

Paul's Cross, 45 

Peckham, 299 

People of the East-end, the, 262 

People's Palace, the, 242 

Pepys, Mr. Samuel, 241 

Petticoat Lane, 245 

Piccadilly, 188 

Police force, the, 128 

Population of London, 24 

Portreeve, the, 21 

Preachers in the parks, 235 

Primrose Hill, 237 

Printing-House Square, 68 

Public executions, 60 

Purley, 303 

Putney, 299 

Pyx Chapel, the, 151 

Rag Fair, 245 

Ranelagh Gardens, 270 

Ratcliff Highway, 249 

Record Office, the, 84 

Redriff, 283 

Regent's Park, 236 

Restaurants, 96 

Riohmond, 293 

Riots in the Park, 234 

Roding Valley, the, 256 

Roehampton, 300 

Roman bath, the, 94 

Roman roads, 16 

Romford, 292 

Rosamond's Pond, 217 

Rotherhithe, 282 

Rotherhithe subway, 286 

Rotten Row, 223, 229 

Round Pond, the, 231 

Royal Exchange, the, 24, 39 

Royal United Service Institution, 108 

Ruskin Park, 238 



St. Bartholomew the Great, 53 

St. Bartholomew's Hospital, 53 

St. Chris topher-le-Stocks, 41 

St. Clement's Church, 73 

St. Dunstan's, 80 

St. Dunstan's-in-the-East, 32 

St. Ethelburga's, 27 

St. George's Cemetery Chapel, 291 

St. George's-in-the-East, 249 

St. Giles', Cripplegate, 54 

St. Helen's Church, 27 

St. James's Palace, 220 

St. James's Park, 215 

St. John, Knights of, 77 

St. John's Gate, 50 

St. John's Wood, 193, 300 

St. Jude's, 263 

St. Katherine Cree, 32 

St. Katherine's, 241 

St. Margaret's, 152 

St. Mary-le-Bow, 29 

St. Mary-le-Strand, 86 

St. Mary Overies, 275 

St. Martin's " in the fields," 108 

St. Pancras Church, 123 

St. Paul's Cathedral, 44 

St. Paul's Cathedral, the Grypt, 47 

St. Saviour's, 275 

St. Sepulchre's, 59 

St. Stephen's, Walbrook, 32 

St. Thomas's Hospital, 277 

Salvation Army, the, 264 

Sanctuaries, 72, 279 

Savoy, the Chapel Royal, 86 

Saxons in London, the, 17 

Scotland Yard, 50 

Scots in London, 73 

Scottish Hospital, the, 72 

Season, the, 194 

Serjeant's Inn, 83 

Serpentine, the, 224, 229, 230 

Shadwell, 249 

Shooter's Hill, 281 

Shoreditch, 243 

Smithfield, 51 

Smoking customs, 171 

Soane Museum, the, 82 

" Society," 206 

Soho Square, 123 

Somers Town, 123 

Somerset House, 86 

Southgate, 302 

Southwark, 267 

Southwark Bridge, 285 

Southwark Fair, 271 

Southwark inns, 279 

Southwark Park, 237 

Spitalfields, 243 
Spas, 282 

Springfield Park, 238 
Stamford Hill, 299 
Stamford Street, 272 
Staple Inn, 85 
State executions, 19 
Stationers' Hall, 50 
Statues, 228 
Stepney, 240 
Stepney Green, 246, 255 
"Steyne, Marquis of," 240 
Stock Exchange, the, 40 
Strand, the, 74 
Strand-on-the-Green, 299 
Strap-hanging, 111 
Stratford-at-Bow, 256 
Street names, suburban, 286 
Suburbs, the, 290 
Suburban cemeteries, 291 
Suburban street names, 28d 
Sunday in London, 232 
Surbiton, 300 
Surrey Gardens, 271 
Surrey Side, the, 267 
Sutton, 302 
Sweetheart exchange, a, 235 

Tate Gallery, 190 

Temple Bar, 73 

Temple, the, 78 

Ten Thousand a Year, 200 

Thackeray's novels, 202 

Thames bridges, the, 284 

Thames Tunnel, 286 

Theatres, 102 

Thorney Island, 134 

Tipping, 90 

Tooley Street, 281 

Tooting, 293 

Tottenham, 293 

Tower Bridge, 240, 285 

Tower Hamlets, 240 

Tower of London, the, 18 

Tower subway, the, 286 

Tower, the, 240, 241 

Toxophilite Society, 237 

Toynbee, Arnold, 263 

Toynbee Hall, 263 

Trafalgar Square, 121 

Trafalgar Square, mass meetings in, 129 

Trams, 112 

" Transpontine " stage, thr-. 272 

Trees, London, 5 

Trinity Almshouses, 257 

Trollope's (Anthony) novels, 205 

Tubes, 110 



Turkish baths, 93 
Tussaud's waxworks, 236 
Twickenham, 300 
Tyburn, 192 

" Tyburn Oratory," the, 235 
Tyburn Tree, 192 
Tyburnia, 192 

Underground Railway, 109 
Underground streams of London, 192 
University Settlements, 263 

Vauxhall, 270 
Vauxhall Bridge, 285 
Vauxhall Station, 271 
Vegetarian restaurants, 98 
" Vic," the, 271 
Victoria and Albert Docks, 252 
Victoria and Albert Museum, 227 
Victoria Monument, the, 221 
Victoria Park, 237, 256 
Victoria (Queen), Jubilee of, 220 

Walbrook, the, 15 
Walham Green, 290 
Walthamstow, 291 
Walworth, 291 
Wandsworth, 284 
Wanstead Park, 238 
Wapping, 248 
War Office, If 3 
Wat Tyler, 51 
Waterloo Bridge, 285 

Waterlow Park, 238 
Watling Street, 16, 302 
Watlings, the, 134 
Wellington Monument, 47 
Welsh Harp, the, 302 
Wentworth Street, 245 
West-end, the, 186 
West Ham, 255 
Westbourne, the, 192 
Westminster Abbey, 143 
Westminster Bridge, 285 
Westminster Cathedral, 153 
Westminster Hall, 135 
Westminster, Palace of, 135 
Westminster School, 151 
White City Exhibition, 119 
White Tower, 18 
Whitechapel, 242 
Whitechapel Art Gallery, 263 
Whitefriars, the, 71 
Whitehall, 107, 121 
" White Hart," the, 279 
Willesden, 4 
Wimbledon, 299 
Windsor Park, 239 
Wood Green, 303 
Wormwood Scrubs, 238 

Yiddish, 245 
York House, 86 
York Place, 107 

Zoological Gardens, Z6Q 





Moncrieff, Ascott Rober